The EN68 virus is the respiratory illness that hit St. Louis hard and is spreading very rapidly. EN68 acts lot like the common cold but kids with asthma seem very hard hit with breathing difficulties. It “seems” that the virus has hit about 10 kids in Idaho so far, but it has not been confirmed that it is EN68 yet. While Ebola has been generating the most buzz on the sites I visit, there are plenty of nasty little viruses already in the USA that we need to prepare to deal with and have a plan.
Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy at http://www.doomandbloom.net/ have some great ideas for sick/isolation room set ups and supplies to have on hand. I never considered having a noise maker on hand for the patient if they needed to get someone’s attention and a whistle would probably not work that well for someone with breathing problems. A small bell would work great and I noticed my home phone has a “page and intercom” function that will work great as long as there is power to recharge the phones. A baby monitor is something I’m going to start looking for at yard sales and thrift stores. A wireless doorbell might also work as an easy to use signal device. I think you will want a noisemaker/monitor that is a simple push button operation or voice activated in your sickroom, but even a simple wind chime could work if you attach a string the patient can easily reach.
Another thing I did not consider was the fabrics I have on every table or the wood furniture in my potential sickroom. It is a spare bedroom and like many I have tablecloths, rugs on the floor and other fabrics that are germ collectors. While I have plenty of clear plastic and even garbage bags to cover stuff, I want to add some of those colorful plastic picnic table cloths that are disposable or can be washed down with a sanitizing cleaner to add some color and keep the sickroom feeling to a min. for the patient. Adding some essential oils to cover the sick room smell will also help. I have no doubt the patient will know they are sick but keeping morale up is critical to the healing process!
The latest thing I want to start adding is some different colored non-food grade buckets and lids for items that must disinfected or thrown away depending on the material. It does not do a lot of good to have the patient isolated and then have all those used items sitting around in the open until you can either clean or dispose of them safely. That means garbage bags, buckets and trash cans with good lids. The buckets and garbage cans can be lined with garbage bags and easily sanitized with a bleach solution before you leave the sickroom and then given another good cleaning after the “contaminated” material has been removed.
Just like the Army has a protocol for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological hazards that consists of three stages so should your sickroom.
- You have your safe area: Probably the rest of your living quarter that must never have any exposure to contamination.
- A clean room/area: this is the place you have all your protective equipment and your buckets to put on and take off when you must enter the sickroom. This area is you cleanup before and after entering the isolation room. Nothing goes in or out of this area without being cleaned or sealed to protect the living area.
- Isolation room: nothing goes in or out without being protected, sanitized or covered to limit the spread of any contamination!
I’m very lucky that my sickroom is next to my bathroom so washing up will be easy during most disasters. Also this can make a great second decontamination station in the event of a Nuclear, Biological or Chemical attack for any one caught outside. In the event you get caught in a one of those “disasters” the best thing you can do is strip and wash that stuff off of you and do not bring any contaminated material into your living quarters! Having a closed bucket full of “clean” flip-flops, t-shirt and a pair of shorts to put on as you head to your “clean room” will help if you are “body shy” as I am, and then you can get a good scrubbing done. Personally I will be setting up another “clean room” on my porch/entrance that can erected quickly and try to preserve some modesty without being a threat to my living area.
I know this may seem a little extreme but as you prepare your basic “sickroom” you are also starting to setup how you protect yourself and your family against thing like a Dirty Bomb or a chemical attack so these precautions are really multi-taskers and good for many types of disasters. It could be a train derailment and some nasty chemicals are leaking from tanker cars. Or if you live in the Pacific Northwest it might be Volcanic ash that can be very corrosive (add water get sulfuric acid) and very bad to inhale, the ash can settle in your lungs and slice those up (think powdered glass) or act like concrete when the ash finds moisture. I went through Mt. St. Helen’s back in 1980 and trust me that ash will get into anything! We were very lucky that the 1980 blast was abnormally low on sulfur content.
Last but not least if you need to seal your home don’t forget to cover your vents in the bathroom, kitchen or if the chimney if you have a wood stove or fireplace.