A little over 3 months ago, most people had never heard of COVID-19, or Novel Coronavirus. Now we all know about it. It is a highly contagious virus, which affects the airways and lungs. While most people who contract it will recover from it, it is proving to be dangerous, especially to vulnerable people. As the entire world fights a desperate battle to beat this disease, it is up to every single person to help.
Whenever you think about survival preparation, it is probably visible, tangible threats that spring to mind, things like the weather, environment and animals, not a microscopic body invader that you know nothing about until you get the first symptoms. It is not a subject that we have previously covered and we do not recall seeing any Bear Grylls or Ray Mears episodes about it either. Unfortunately, the world was simply not prepared for this particular scenario, nor the speed at which it has developed.
So how do you make it through the COVID-19 crisis? The grim reality is that absolutely no-one knows for certain if they might survive it until they get ill from it and either recover, or don’t. We certainly are not medics or scientists. However we do feel that our survival mantra of ‘Always be prepared’ is still very much appropriate in making decisions to minimise your risks:
- Use common sense
- Stay calm, don’t panic
- Follow expert advice
- Be correctly informed
- Be properly prepared
Fake News & Misinformation
First things first, where do you get your information from? Where do you go to find out facts and unbiased data about what you might have to face? We are bombarded with statistics and advice from every direction, but much of it is unreliable at best and at worst it can be downright dangerous. Unfortunately, in the modern age of technology and information, the crisis is amplified by misinformation, fear and distrust. Anybody who uses any form of social media or consumes ‘news’ from the internet and print will have seen multiple unfounded scare stories, advice or misinformation.
At a time where we are all being bombarded with information from every direction, it is only natural to be worried and the most important thing you can do is to only trust facts given by reputable organisations who actually have fact checking and source reliability systems in place. the correctly qualified scientists and health experts behind them.
The best place to get accurate, up to date information is directly from Gov.uk, the NHS and your local authority websites.
Wash Your Hands
The absolute first line of defence in protecting yourself and your loved ones is to wash your hands, regularly, often and properly. Even at this stage of the pandemic, there are still people who are not doing this correctly.
You should use soap and water, making sure you scrub every surface up to your wrists: front, back, in between the fingers and under the nails for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth or single use paper towel.
If you don’t have soap to hand, then use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub that into every surface on your hand for at least 20 seconds.
The reason why soap and water is effective is because soap actively breaks down the outer molecules of the virus, allowing the water to penetrate and further break down the centre parts, killing it and washing it away.
Everyone should already know to wash your hands after every time you visit the toilet, change a nappy or help a child with toileting, when you sneeze,cough or blow your nose, before and after eating, before and after contact with ill people, before and after treating wounds, after touching animals or cleaning out animal housing, handling rubbish or if your hands get dirty.
Additionally, to prevent the spread of coronavirus, you should be washing your hands every time you re-enter your home, every time you enter and leave a public place, every time you touch something often touched by others, such as PIN pads in shops, cash, trolley handles etc…
Use A Tissue
Need to cough, sneeze or blow your nose? USE A TISSUE! Then bin it immediately, do not shove it up your sleeve or in your pocket. If you find yourself without tissues, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands, to keep your hands clear of the respiratory droplets which carry the virus.
Don’t Touch Your Face
The virus spreads by being carried on miniscule respiratory droplets contained within our breath, sneezes, coughs and mucus. We can’t see them, but these circulate within the air and fall onto surfaces around us. If we then touch these surfaces with our hands, then put our hands near our face, we are transporting the virus closer to the places where it can enter our body – which is through our eyes, mouth and nose. If you don’t touch your face, you are reducing the ability of the virus to invade your body as it cannot enter through your skin.
Observe Social Distancing – Avoid Close Contact
The Government defines close contact as spending more than 15 minutes being closer than 2 metres to another person or people and you should be avoiding this where necessary. You should be keeping a distance of more than 2 metres from others, reducing all physical contact with others and refraining from personally touching other people, avoiding actions like hugging, handshaking and holding hands. This of course, is not possible for everyone, such as healthcare workers, carers and those caring for young children, but even people in these positions should still not make physical contact with anyone else where it is not necessary.
Why does Social Distancing matter?
Not everyone likes to be told they cannot do what they want, but it is so important that people understand that their actions, or lack of actions, can have a serious impact in the continuing spread of the virus. The quickest way to get the epidemic under control is for the whole population to behave responsibly and follow all official advice.
Everybody, of every age, everywhere, should be doing everything possible to minimise their risk of both contracting the virus and passing it on. Social distancing means staying at home and avoiding social contact with any person who does not normally live in your household. This is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of complications if they were to contract the virus, this includes anyone over 70 years old, anybody with an underlying health condition and pregnant women.
If possible, work from home and do not travel unless you are a critical key worker as defined by the Government. Keep yourself updated with the list, as it may change. You should only go out to shops to buy essential supplies when you need to (there is absolutely no reason for panic buying as the food manufacture and supply chains are continuing to operate as normal), and send one person from the family to do it, do not treat it as an opportunity for a family outing.
SAVE LIVES – FOLLOW THE RULES
Self-isolation means isolating yourself from all other people, including people who live within the same household. If you start noticing any symptoms which could be due to a coronavirus infection, you should self-isolate immediately.
DO NOT GO SHOPPING IF YOU ARE SELF ISOLATING
If you live on your own, you should stay at home for a minimum of seven days from when the symptoms started.
If you live with other people, you and every other household member should remain inside your home for a minimum of 14 days from when the first person shows symptoms, even if everyone else seems well. There are more specific guidelines at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
Stay and sleep in separate rooms from each other where possible, keep equipment like towels separate and thoroughly clean surfaces and rooms regularly, especially kitchens, bathrooms and toilets. Wash your hands regularly and often. Wash all clothing and bedding on hot washes, cleaning the washing machine between loads. If there are any people within the household who are in a high-risk group, either arrange for an alternative place for them to stay or keep away from them as strictly as possible.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
- A new, continuous cough and/or
- A high temperature (the NHS advises that you have a high temperature if you feel hot to touch on your chest or back).
Most people who develop the virus will have mild symptoms that can be managed at home for the duration of the illness.
What To Do If You Have Mild Symptoms
- Do not go to a pharmacy, doctor’s surgery or hospital, stay at home.
- Start self-isolation for you and all other members of your household immediately.
- You do not need to call 111 or any other medical body to inform them you might have it. If you want more information, go to the NHS 111 Online service.
- You do not require testing if you are managing your symptoms at home. Do not ask for testing as it will not be provided.
- If you need supplies of food or medicines, arrange for someone else to leave a delivery outside your door. They should not enter your house.
When To Ask for Medical Help
ONLY SEEK MEDICAL HELP IF IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
- If your symptoms do not improve after seven days.
- If your illness gets worse.
- You are struggling to cope and manage with the symptoms at home.
If you reach a point where you feel you or a family member may need medical support, then log onto the NHS 111 Online service. If you do not have access to the internet then phone 111.
Please note – this is a developing situation. The information in this article is correct as of 23/03/2020 but is likely to change rapidly. Please go to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus for the most up to date information.