Tag Archives: SARS

The Apocalypse is already here PART II

The Apocalypse arrives at different speeds, but it’s here. MERS has been reported in France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

It’s thought to have begun in Saudi Arabia.

What do we really need to survive disaster?

I just ran across a great website called Survival Cache!

Follow this link to their 100 suggestions about stuff you need and what disappears first in a disaster. 

It’s a thorough and fascinating list. In the first four episodes of This Plague of Days (to be released soon!) the Spencer family is under siege from the world flu pandemic.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin'.

Until the Sutr Virus hits here, you could read these books by Robert Chazz Chute. Just sayin’.

They stock up on what they can as prices soar and canned goods are flying off the shelves. 

I’ve seen that happen personally on a small scale. During the SARS crisis, you couldn’t buy a bottle of hand sanitizer for any price where I live. The supplies were all gone in the worry and panic over SARS.

Then, at the end of the first season of This Plague of Days, the crisis shifts. Over the next four episodes, The Spencer family loses a lot, including much of their cache of emergency supplies. Once they’re on the run, they can’t take everything they need. Then they can’t carry everything they need. When traffic jams block all escape routes, survivors have to get innovative.

So we need to think carefully about our go-bags.*

What do we absolutely need and what luxury will feel like it weighs a ton by the fifth mile of our hike to safety? Individual capacities will vary. Maybe you’re a Marine who can huck a heavy ruck 25 miles a day, but what weight can your ten-year-old daughter carry? Is the weight in the harness rig on your dog balanced? Can grandpa walk out of the flood zone unassisted or should he stay behind and hope for a helicopter? Do you have alternate escape routes and fallback positions? What’s the backup plan behind the backup plan behind the backup plan? 

What’s in your backpack?

When many people think of prepping, they picture a fortress, panic rooms, a bunker, a defensible Wal-mart or a castle with a moat. They picture infinite supplies and relative comfort. But what if the hurricane takes away your supplies and screws up your plans for holing up and waiting out the flood, fire and armies of crazed zombies?

To be zombie-ready, we have prepare to be mobile, too. Get out your clipboards, pack and repack and weigh. Start crossing stuff off your awesome list. Figure out what gets packed in the basement, the family van and what you can carry on sore, aching shoulders to safety.

*More on go-bags in a coming guest post by friend and fellow author Jordanna East.


H7N9: The new bird flu

Remember the threat of H5N1 (AKA Avian Influenza or Bird Flu)?

 Here’s a link to an article about H7N9. It’s killed 22 in China as of this writing, but because infection hasn’t occurred in migratory birds and markets that


English: Chinese inspectors on an airplane, ch...

English: Chinese inspectors on an airplane, checking passengers for fevers (a symptom of swine flu). Taken in China after arrival, prior to exiting the plane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


sell the birds have been closed, the spread of the disease has been slow. What’s most worrying about H7N9 is that appears to spread to humans easier than previous strains of bird flu.


One of the other things that’s aiding global safety from world flu pandemics is that, after denying that SARS was a problem, China was embarrassed when they finally had to admit they had a huge problem with the disease. After they lied about their SARS event, the Chinese government took unprecedented steps toward transparency. They’re better at reporting their problems with contagious disease now. Awareness and sharing of information are ways we will have a chance at containing outbreaks and preventing contagion.

You’re being tracked


Another interesting approach comes from a marriage of epidemiologists and the Internet. Internet searches are tracked for key words. If there’s an uptick in people googling flu symptoms, for instance, maps can be made of the spread of viruses based on the searchers’ locations. This grassroots epidemiological data tracks rates of viral infection and serves as an early warning system so authorities can take steps to warn and protect health care workers, hold quarantines, restrict travel and warn the public to use precautions.


Precautions in case of world flu pandemic may include:

Public awareness campaigns to wash your hands (do that anyway, for God’s sake!); social distancing; banning public gatherings; house arrest; quarantines for public safety; border closings; travel restrictions; promoting the use of masks, etc.,…


When the crap hits the ceiling fan, it pays to be warned and prepared for a world flu pandemic. Governments are working behind the scenes (often with underfunded agencies, departments and programs) to get ready for such catastrophic events.

What are you doing to prepare?


Wash Your Hands!: The most reliable preventative against spreading disease

Person washing his hands

Person washing his hands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a guest post coming next week about go-bags. I’m hoping the buddy who is a SWAT expert who consults for my crime novels will favor us with post about getting zombie-ready, too. Before we get too much deeper into this blog, though, I have to write this post. It is at once a hopeful idea and a deflating one. Here’s the key thing you need to know to prevent the spread of disease:


Every day we touch our faces, our mouths and eyes hundreds of times. We do it after touching doorknobs and shaking hands and borrowing a pen. The vectors of disease are everywhere, waiting for us to make this mistake. It’s such an easy fix, yet lots of people fail to do it. Sometimes I think the human race is too dumb to live and we’ve just been lucky so far. Here’s why…

How to

Use hot water and soap (and not anti-bacterial lotions if you can help it.) After you wash your hands, the best preference is to shut off the tap with your elbow or, after you dry your hands with a paper towel, turn off the tap with the same paper towel. Don’t grab the bathroom door handle with the hand you just washed and then go share popcorn with your date. Use the paper towel again, a sleeve, a glove or wait for somebody else to open the door.

Why to

I don’t have OCD. I just know how much fecal matter is on handles, ATM keys and your money. The germs on money is akin to used toilet paper. If a food handler tries to serve your food with the same dirty hands they used to take your money, do not eat it and tell the manager to retrain his or her staff.

Why does this information bring me up and down at the same time?

Because it’s the same advice given to revolutionary war soldiers to help prevent the spread of disease. Washing your hands was initially a radical idea and the doctor who first proposed the practice to decrease the incidence of infant mortality in his hospital was persecuted for it (and eventually ended up in a madhouse.)


During the SARS crisis in Toronto a few years ago (in which 44 people died), hand washing was the prime directive. That’s depressing because that was the best advice they had at the time and still is. After the invention of the microscope and vaccines and amazing medical technology, the best we can do is still ordinary hygiene you should be doing anyway. And many people don’t. We’d call them selfish pigs, though that’s an insult to pigs.

What’s worse?

I waited a long time for a surgeon to show up to give me some stitches. He’d just driven in to the office from home. Before he touched me, I asked that he wash his hands. Yes, he was going to use an anti-bacterial and wear gloves etc.,…, but first I had to ask him to do the basics. He looked mildly irritated, but he complied, so fine. No infection for me.

I knew another health care practitioner who went to the bathroom but felt he was too busy and important to wash his hands before going off to see patients. I witnessed this once personally. Even after getting berated for his negligence and disrespect, I’m sure he probably gets away with it when no one else is around to call him on it. 

Mount your defences

To protect you and your family, get in the habit if you aren’t already. Wipe down germy surfaces (kitchen counters, doorknobs, cutting boards)  with hot, soapy water, vinegar and water or organic cleaning products so food-bourne bacteria doesn’t make you sick. Wash your hands for your benefit and for the health of others.

Until better medicine comes along, basic hygiene is still the first defence against the coming plague.

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