It’s Up to You

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Now that President Trump has released his plan for restarting the economy, it seems that state governors are racing against each other to get businesses in their states open. That’s understandable, as the last six weeks have wrecked havoc on our economy at all levels.

There are those who are complaining about reopening the economy, expressing the point of view that that it’s “all about money.” That’s true; but I’ve been making the point to those people that when we talk about that money, we’re not talking about the fat cats. They’re fine and will come out of this with plenty left in their accounts. But the same thing can’t be said about the 26 million people who have applied for unemployment during these weeks, nor the millions of small business owners who are about to lose everything.

So regardless of what anything thinks, it’s really necessary to get the economy back on track. The government can’t keep sending out Monopoly money for people to spend. While that probably means that we’re going to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, the lockdown was never intended to stop the pandemic, just to flatten the curve.

Even so, if you aren’t comfortable going back to work; that’s your decision to make. You can stay home. Just don’t expect the government to keep sending you checks. The other option is talking your boss into letting you keep working from home, if your job makes that possible.

But here’s the thing, if you do decide to go back to work. If I was you, I wouldn’t depend on your employer to protect you from catching COVID-19. While I’m sure that most employers are going to be taking some action to protect their employees, I wouldn’t count on them doing everything you need. They aren’t experts in this area. So even if they want to do right by their employees, they’ll probably make a considerable amount of errors.

So what should you do?

That depends a lot on your working conditions; whether you work in an office, whether you share that office with others, whether you are out in the sun, and how much contact you have with others.

I’d say that those who work out in the sun are in the safest work conditions, as ultraviolet light (UV) kills viruses. Recent CDC information indicates that it kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus extremely quickly. So of you work outdoors, all you need to do is practice social distancing; although you may want to wear a mask, if there are times when you come into contact with others.

For those that don’t work outside, the big question is going to be how close you come into contact with other workers. Few workplaces offer the kind of space needed to practice social distancing, although I imagine many employers are going to be trying to rearrange the workplace to do what they can to improve that.

If you can’t have that sort of isolation from other workers, then masks and hand washing are going to be the two biggest things you can do to protect yourself. Recent estimates by the CDC indicate that somewhere between 25% and 50% of the COVID-19 cases are passed on from people who are asymptomatic. So the only way you can protect yourself is to assume everyone around you is infected and protect yourself from the virus they may be carrying.

Cloth masks are an important part of this, in that they are able to catch and absorb the droplets of spittle which carry the virus. Standard surgical masks won’t do this, because their outer layer is plastic film; but homemade cloth masks will. One important point though; if you’re going to wear masks, be sure to wash them daily, so that you’re not handling or putting on a mask that has the virus on it. I’ve made my wife five masks, so that she has one to wear every day of the week, once she returns to working at the office.

You don’t need to wear a mask all the time, just when you’re around others or somewhere where others have been recently. If you have a private office or workshop you work out of, you can close the door and take your mask off.

Another thing you can do, if you have a private office or workshop space is to install a UV light. A black light, of the kind we used to use to make fluorescent posters glow, is UV light, and much less expensive than buying a “medical grade” light of the kind which are being sold all over Facebook.

Don’t leave the light on all the time though. Too much UV can cause sunburn or potentially lead to skin cancer. Rather, put it in your office, someplace where it can reflect off the ceiling. Then, turn it on for a few minutes every time someone comes to visit you. That will sanitize the air, as well as any horizontal surfaces where their spittle might have fallen.

Finally, as everyone has been saying, wash your hands a lot. You basically want to touch them every time you come into contact with anything you come into contact with anything you don’t personally know have been disinfected.

You’ll need a lot of hand sanitizer for this, which is still in short supply. You can make your own, but make sure you do it right. Many people are using the 2:1 ratio of alcohol to aloe vera. But they’re doing it with 70% rubbing alcohol. That gives you a hand sanitizer that’s only about 45% alcohol, not the 60% that the CDC is saying you need. So how do you get the 60%? Start with 91% rubbing alcohol, which you should be able to get at your local pharmacy. The mix should be:

  • 2 cups (1 bottle) 91% rubbing alcohol
  • 1 cup aloe vera – if you can’t find aloe vera, look for a gel to treat sunburn; it will have aloe vera and glycerin, a perfect mix
  • 15 – 20 drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil

This will give you something at least as good as what you get at the store. Keep some with you at all times, so you can sanitize your hands whenever necessary, just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

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