Pandemics are not all the same, but there are a few tactics that will serve you well, no matter what disease is tearing through the population.
1. Information vs. Misinformation
As we mentioned in the preparedness kit, your material goods will only take you so far. Good information will serve you better during a pandemic than a pallet of bleach.
The best defense against disease is awareness and accuracy.
The social media world is rife with conspiracy theories that range from plausible to probable to bizarre.
Just because a story appears online does not mean it is true. Malicious forces can easily manipulate social media by circulating fake news through bots.
Claims about fake herbal medicines that fight COVID surfaced in India and Thailand. In the US, the equivalent was hydroxychloroquine (malaria drug) and ivermectin (deworming medicine). People ate all kinds of useless stuff, thinking it would keep them safe from COVID.
Get your information from a trusted source, such as The Associated Press or another news outlet that is not affiliated with any government or private body.
The CDC website is also a great place to get information about recent outbreaks.
Throughout the first year of COVID, apart from masks and social distancing, washing hands was our chief defense. Having clean hands is actually a key defense against a lot of contagious illnesses.
Hygiene remains the most potent weapon against disease.
- Keep your home clean.
- Do not allow pests to proliferate.
- Let the sunshine in. UV rays can help disinfect air and fabrics.
- Wash furnishings regularly, including curtains, drapes, and blankets.
Keeping up pandemic-level hygiene practices during non-pandemic times can also mean fewer illnesses at home, in general. If your kids wash their hands more often, you might escape their schoolmates’ parade of colds.
Your immune system is your last line of defense against disease before medical intervention, and there’s no telling how far it can take you.
Many people survived COVID easily, but many who were expected to survive did not. Michael Ojo, a healthy 27-year-old professional basketball player, died of heart failure related to COVID. An overactive immune system can trigger secondary problems as your body aggressively fights infection. There’s just no guarantee that your immune system will see you through, which is why other measures like social distancing and vaccination are so important while disease is spreading.
That said, it’s still wise to stay as healthy as possible. Here are the three keys to keeping your immune system strong:
- Rest: Sleep is essential. Most adults require at least 7 hours of sleep each night. The body heals and repairs itself while we sleep, meaning sleep is one of the best ways we can improve our immunity. Make sure you are getting good rest with deep REM sleep each night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to make it easier to fall into a deep sleep.
- Food: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fiber and fruits. It’s a good idea to make half of your plate fruit and vegetables at each meal. Cut back on drinking if you like a tipple; infrequent drinkers get better sleep. Cut out all tobacco products completely; they’re killing you and not helping your immune system at all.
- Exercise: People who exercise also get better sleep! They also maintain their overall health, lucidity, and mobility longer, so there’s really no downside. You don’t need a gym; you just need to move your body. 150 minutes of weekly exercise is what a healthy adult needs. That’s the equivalent of taking a brisk 30 minute walk five times a week.
Keep your opportunities to get infected low, stay informed, stay clean, and stay rested for the best chance of surviving the next pandemic. But what do you do once it’s all over?