How to Prepare for Ebola Virus Outbreak

by Tyler on September 15, 2014

In response to fears that the Ebola virus may soon reach U.S. shores, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a publication entitled, “Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness.”

While the document is geared towards healthcare facilities and workers, there are many lessons we can take away when planning for how to prepare for an Ebola virus outbreak at home.

As they say, it first helps to know your enemy, so below is a brief background on the disease.

What is the Ebola Virus?

Ebola, officially known as Ebola virus disease (EVD), is a virus spread initially from animals to humans, and then from human to human.  Its primary symptoms are a sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, sore throat and headache.  Those symptoms are usually soon followed by diarrhea, vomiting and impaired kidney and liver function.

The disease has a 90% fatality rate.  Most victims eventually succumb to internal and external bleeding.  Unfortunately, there is no official vaccine for humans or animals.

One of the things that makes the Ebola virus so dangerous is that it has an incubation time lasting up to 21 days.  While infected humans are not thought to be contagious until symptoms are present, this delay provides plenty of time for an infected person to move about the world and spread the disease before falling ill.

How is Ebola Virus Spread?

The Ebola virus is spread from an infected human to another via the direct contact of bodily fluids.  As of this writing the virus is not airborne, but that is concern going forward as the virus continues to spread and mutate.

In 1989, Ebola virus went airborne in a Reston, VA CDC medical lab, so the possibility of the virus being transmitted outside of contact with bodily fluid is not without precedent.

Protective Items to Stockpile Now

Every fall, ahead of the usual flu scare, we stock up on a few items to get us through the winter in the event we don’t want to visit a pharmacy of doctor’s office filled with infected customers.  A couple of years ago we bought several boxes Guaifenesin (expectorant) after reading that year’s flu was particularly dangerous because the lungs of those infected would fill with fluid.

We also typically buy facemasks, gloves, and hand santizers.

To specifically prepare for a potential Ebola outbreak we will stock up on the following items over the next couple of weeks:

  • Fluid-resistant or impermeable gowns
  • Face shield/goggles
  • Shoe covers (booties)
  • N95 respirators
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Lysol spray and wipes
  • Clorox bleach
  • Anti-bacterial soaps
  • Loperamide (anti-diarrhea)
  • Fever reducers (ibuprofin)
  • Gatorade (to replenish needed salts and electrolytes)
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Duct tape
  • Heavy duty black garbage bags
  • Toilet paper

How to Set Up a Quarantine Room In Your Home

Quarantine room with plastic tarps.

This would also be a good time to develop a quarantine plan in your own household.  If a family member becomes sick in a SHTF scenario hospitals will likely be full and you will have to provide care at home.

It is vital that the infected family member be quarantined from remaining family members, especially children and older adults or those with a weakened immune system.

Those providing care for infected family members must take precautions by wearing gloves, gowns, a mask, a face shield or goggles, and have a plan for properly disposing of waste, soiled clothes and linens of an infect family member.

For now, the Ebola virus outbreak is limited to the following countries:

  • Guinea
  • Sierra Leone
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria

However, in this day of international travel, combined with a long incubation period, it seems inevitable that the disease will soon spread.

Source:  Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness




What To Buy In July

by Tyler on July 22, 2014

With summer winding down for some, and just getting started for others, the month of July offers a unique opportunity to score deals, if you know what to buy in July.

Some things are fairly obvious, like summer clothes and fruits and vegetables.  Other items may seem counterintuitive, like vacation rentals and certain electronics.

Let’s look at each one individually.

Computers.  More specifically, laptops, which are getting a run for their money from the growing popularity of tablets.  Personally, I still like having a laptop for any hardcore writing (the virtual keyboards on a tablet screen and keyboard cases just aren’t the same).

July offers a sweet spot in laptop deals because retailers are gearing up for back-to-school while looking to make room for newer models.  I often find the next-to-most-recent models perfectly suitable, but be sure to check the specs before making a buying decision just because it is a good deal.

Produce.  The other day I was in our local grocery store and saw corn on sale for $0.30.  I picked up a couple dozen ears, blanched them and then stored them in our freezer.  This winter they will make a tasty side dish that I only spent $7.20 and a little time to stock up on.

The same could be applied to summer fruits and other vegetables.  I really would like to do more canning, and this would be the perfect time to practice with things like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries at a fraction of their offseason prices.

Summer Clothing.  Here lately I have been buying most of my work shirts via eBay.  I have discovered that I can generally find very good deals on button down shirts at a fraction of the department store costs.  In fact, just last week I found a gently used Chaps polo shirt for $9.50.  It retails for $60.00.

Having said that, July is the time when many retailers start looking to make room for the fall and winter fashions, and you can generally find some good sales on summer clothing.  The longer you wait, the poorer the selection, but the better the deals.

It’s often a balancing act between waiting for rock bottom prices, but not waiting so long that there is nothing in your size, or nothing you would wear remaining on the shelves.

What about you?  Do you have something in particular that you like to stock up on in July?  Any deals you can share with the rest of us?


I read an alarming statistic today over at The Crux about the state of savings in America.  Much is made about our collective debt, but we rarely hear much about our collective savings. Unfortunately, it seems that is because we have so little squirreled away for that proverbial rainy day.

“According to a telephone survey from the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute and the market-research company Greenwald and Associates, 36% of American workers have less than $1,000 in savings.”

Depending on your own financial situation, you may find the subjects of that survey rather foolish for keeping so little in the bank. On the other hand, if you have ever lived paycheck to paycheck, you know just what it’s like to not have any extra for savings, much less a $1,000.

Maintaining a basic emergency fund is essential to financial well-being, and we must, as a society save and invest more for both our long-term and short-term needs. If you find yourself in the 64% of people without $1,000 in the bank, start saving a small amount each paycheck – even $20 adds up over time.

The next time you receive a raise at work aim to put half of the percentage increase in savings.  You will still enjoy a modest increase to your paycheck, and you will be putting a little distance between you and the next inevitable emergency.


How to Prepare for Severe Weather

by Tyler on April 27, 2014

Showers and May flowers are not the only thing April brings in the Midwest and Southeastern United States.  April also means the increased chances of severe weather.

This week, weather forecasters are calling for this year’s first major outbreak of tornadoes.  Forecast models are predicting the potential for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms from Nebraska to Georgia.

There are a few things you can do in advance to secure your property and your person.

7 Actions to Take Ahead of a Tornado Outbreak

1. Store or lock down outdoor items.  Things like pool chairs and umbrellas will essentially become missiles in a tornado. So will lumber and firewood.  Store any loose materials or furniture indoors until the threat has passed.

2. Move valuables to higher ground and secure them.  Flooding rains often accompany severe thunderstorms.  If you are in a flood plain, consider moving valuables out of basements and to the main level of your home (or a second story, if you have one).  Also consider adding a heavy safe and bolting it to your floor or concrete slab.


3.  Have cash on hand.  A couple years ago, in the Alabama tornado outbreak that left several dead and many thousands homeless, I remember reading articles of stores only accepting cash because power and credit card networks were down.  It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand to pay for gas and groceries should your town take a direct hit from a tornado.

4. Buy a weather radio.  We have a couple weather radios, including a hand-crank weather radio, which is great because it doesn’t require batteries.  Weather radios will keep you informed as the tornadoes approach, and give the all clear when the storms have passed.

5. Fuel up vehicles.  Now’s not the time to be coasting home on fumes.  If a tornado damages your local power grid it could be days before pumps are operating again.

6. Have food and several heat sources on hand.  Several years ago we were hit by a tropical storm that maintained its strength hundreds of miles inland.  We lost power for four days.  Peanut butter and jelly is good for the first day, but believe me, you will cherish a hot meal cooked on a grill or camp stove.  You will also need to think about eating up refrigerated food early on before it spoils.

7. Have a family-wide disaster readiness plan in place.  If storms are scheduled to hit during the day, chances are family members will be separated.  Be sure everyone in your immediate family has a rendezvous point, and a secondary rendezvous point in case the first one is destroyed.

Photo by Mike McCune via Flickr


Is Now A Good Time To Buy A New Car?

by Tyler on March 2, 2014

If you are in the market for a new car this may be the time to act.  Economics 101 reminds us that there is an inverse relationship between price and supply.  That is, when supplies increase, often times prices decrease.  That’s exactly what’s happening with the current auto market.

Increased Inventory

Several factors have conspired to lower demand for new cars, thereby increasing inventories for many dealers.  Weather has played the most significant factor.  After all, who wants to go new car shopping in 10 inches of snow?

car-dealershipYou can use this glut of inventory to your advantage.  Auto makers and dealers are offering some sweet incentives to attract buyers to take some of this inventory off their hands.  Be sure to do your homework before you step foot on the lot.

Manufacturer websites are a good place to start.  For instance, has a deals and offers page which lists financing deals (Financing?  No thanks; I’m paying cash for my next car), rebates and incentives.  If a deal strikes your fancy, you can click “View Inventory” to see vehicles in your local area.  Other manufacturers offer a similar service on their website.

Low Rates

Those looking to finance a deal on a new car will find financing rates still fairly low, but one would have to expect them to increase over time as changes in monetary policy will cause borrowing rates to rise.

Locking in a low rate now can save you a significant amount for a large purchase such as a car, but keeps the terms as short as possible – no one should pay on a car loan for 72 months, in my opinion.  If you need that many months to buy a car you cannot afford it.

Tax Returns

For many, this time of year brings the promise of a tax return.  If you receive a large return this year, I’m hoping the first thing you will do is adjust some forms with your payroll office so you don’t get a large return next year.  After all, why give Uncle Sam an interest-free loan all year?

The second thing you should do, if you are in the market for a new car, is use some or all of that tax return cash towards the purchase of a new(er) car.  Don’t expect dealers to be pleased to hear you will be putting down a large down payment, or paying cash outright.  Dealers and manufacturers make a lot of money on financing, and they are all too happy to sign up for 60 months of payments.

Keep your preferred payment method to yourself until after you’ve been quoted a bottom line price.

Remember that buying a new car is usually more expensive than buying a quality used car.  If you have a hang up about buying a used car, remember that all cars are “used” immediately after they are driven off of the dealership lot.

You must judge every deal on its own merit, and not perceive a new car to always be more expensive than a used card, and vice versa.