Pandemics are scary things… our bodies being invaded by something too small to see, yet powerful enough to kill us. Unlike other invaders, we have no way of knowing that they are there or that they are attacking us, up until they’ve already caused disease in our bodies. By then, it might already be too late. There have been pandemics in the past which were so bad, that people went to bed seemingly healthy, yet died before morning came.
We literally live in risk of pandemic all the time. This isn’t fear mongering; it’s the truth. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), one of the world’s top three medical organizations, an average of 61,000 people die each year from the flu. Yet compared to the millions who contract the flu annually, the percentages are surprisingly low.
Other diseases are much more deadly, especially viral diseases. While medical science has had great success developing antibiotics which can fight bacterial disease, they have had zero success in developing antiviral medicines. That means that if you become infected by Ebola, the new Coronavirus, or even the flu, the only thing that doctors can do is treat the symptoms; it’s up to your body to defeat the disease on its own.
Medical Face Masks
All diseases are caused by microscopic pathogens; bacteria, viruses and protozoa. These need to get inside your body, in order to infect you. They really can’t do much to you, as long as they are on your skin, as the skin works to repel them, keeping them out of your body. In most cases, these pathogens get into the body through natural body openings, like the eyes, nose and mouth. They can also get in through cuts and contusions, which is why proper cleaning and bandaging of injuries is so important.
There are different ways in which these microscopic organisms pass from one person to another, but the most common, and most deadly, is via aerosol. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets of mucus or saliva are expelled, filled with those pathogens. All we have to do is be close enough (say within six feet) and breathe them in to get infected. Medical masks filter those droplets out, protecting us from getting infected in that way.
In a pinch, you can use the kind of masks that are used for dust protection. Those are often much easier to come by, as you can buy them at hardware stores and lumberyards. Spray them lightly with disinfectant and they’ll work as good as the medical ones.
Of course, those medical masks don’t protect your eyes. For that, you need to wear goggles. I’m sure you know the kind I’m talking about, the ugly ones we used to wear in chemistry class. They may not be attractive, but they’ll keep those aerosol droplets away from your eyes. Just be sure to disinfect them after use, before you take off your rubber gloves, so that you don’t pick up any pathogens the next time you pick them up.
Probably the dirtiest part of our bodies, or at least our skin, is our hands. I’m not talking about having mud on them, I’m talking about biologically dirty. In other words, covered with bacteria, viruses and protozoa. We can’t see them, but they are there. most are rather benign, but not in the case of a pandemic.
The reason we wear rubber gloves is to keep those pathogens off of our hands. But they do something else, at the same time. They keep our hands off our food and out of our mouths. You see, viruses on the hands can’t hurt you; at least, not until you pick up your sandwich or hamburger and take a bite. When you do that, you give them direct access to your mouth, helping to infect yourself.
If you’re trying to protect yourself from pandemics, you’d better count on going through a lot of rubber gloves. Every time you come away from a potentially infectious situation, you’ll want to take those gloves off and replace them. As you take them off, do so by turning them inside-out. That way, anything that is on the surface is trapped inside, where it can’t infect you or anyone else. Dispose of immediately.
Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer
Once you take the gloves off, it’s time to clean your hands. That’s what the antibacterial hand sanitizer comes in. For that matter, you should use it before eating as well. Hand soap often contains alcohol or chlorine, both of which are uniformly fatal to those microscopic pathogens we’re trying to stop. On top of this, soaps that are labeled “antibacterial” contain additional bacteria killers, such as triclosan or triclocarban.
There have been some reports, in recent times, saying that you’re not any better off using these antibacterial hand cleaners, than you are using soap. Personally, I’d rather not take any chances. If I was really concerned, I’d dip my hands in a bucket full of alcohol, just to be sure.
While we’re mostly concerned about those aerosol droplets landing on us, we should also pay attention to where else they might land. Even though the droplets dry, bacteria and viruses they contain can survive on those surfaces for a while. Then when people touch them, they can pick up the disease.
The solution to this risk is to keep everything clean, using disinfectant cleaners, especially those surfaces which could have become contaminate by an infected person. There’s no such thing as too much cleanliness, when we’re trying to avoid a pandemic.
Chlorine bleach is one of the best disinfectants going, able to kill all sorts of microscopic pathogens. It also doubles for purifying water. Make sure you have plenty on hand, even if you do have the disinfectant wipes.