Many people are wondering why they are being advised to have at least two weeks of food, water, medications, and other essentials on hand during a pandemic. Here’s the reasoning: In a pandemic, everything slows down.
Imagine that 10% or 25% of Americans are affected by a pandemic…either they are ill, or are tending to others that are ill. (In 1918, 25% of Americans were sick at one time or another during the pandemic.) That 10% or 25% will occur across the entire country: truck drivers, manufacturers, retailers, water and sanitation employees, medical professionals, etc. This means that every supply chain could experience some disruption.
Agricultural workers who get our raw food products to canners and production facilities will be ill at the same rate as truckers who deliver the food to the grocery stores and markets. Small town water and sanitation system employees who rely on a small number of individuals to keep drinking water safe may be unable to do so if they or their family members are sick. Manufacturing output will slow down to match the pace of demand and their ability to get people into the workplace to meet production requirements. Medical professionals are also expected to be affected at the same rate as the general public, so doctors’ offices and hospitals can be expected to have longer than usual waiting times for patients to be seen.
So what does this mean for me?
It means that if you have two weeks of essentials on hand, you are better able to withstand the slowdown in the supply chain. It means that if you or a family member are ill, you don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store only to find out that the items you need are out of stock. It is your family’s own safety net, and can be a safety net for your friends and neighbors if they have not been able to adequately prepare.
So, consider stocking up in the coming days so that you can rest easy if you become ill. If you need advice on how to prepare, and what you need, go to www.pandemicflu.gov to find checklists that can help you in this public health emergency.