Early Prepping Lessons From The Coronavirus – Part Three: PPE Shortage
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Early Prepping Lessons From The Coronavirus – Part Three: PPE Shortage

Reading Time: 8 minutes

In part four of the Early Prepping Lessons From The Coronavirus series, I go into personal protective equipment (PPE) preps. What ended up looking like a PPE Shortage, what went right and more importantly, what we learned.

How many preppers anticipated a PPE Shortage? I think many of us prepping didn’t understand exactly how critical PPE – Personal protective equipment is. As we’ve all witnessed, PPE becomes near impossible to get very soon after the pandemic is announced.

The shortage of masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and other PPE (personal protective equipment) has been in the headlines throughout the pandemic. Not only for the average citizen but we’ve had massive PPE shortage for hospitals and first responders. That is a scary situation.

List Of PPE Preps For The Next Pandemic

This is a very short list of PPE preps I have in my preps but you may be able to think of things I missed.

Wearing My DIY PPE Pandemic Kit
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Wearing My DIY PPE Pandemic Kit
  • N-95 Masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Faceshield
  • Eye goggles
  • Full-body protective coveralls
  • Rolled plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape

PPE Is Not A Guarantee

PPE is used to reduce or minimize exposure to hazards but, as in the case of a pandemic, they do not eliminate risk or exposure. A seatbelt may reduce your risk of dieing in a car crash but it does not prevent it.

Wearing protective equipment, especially inadequate face masks, DO NOT fully protect you from virus or disease. This is important for you to understand. A false sense of security can be very dangerous.

Also, wearing PPE in the form of a protective suit and masks can be just as bad as not wearing it if you do not know how to wear and remove the PPE.

Removing a mask, for example, the wrong way my cause an unintentional infection or transmission.

In my opinion, you should not put on a mask and wear it all day long. You’re providing the two environments a virus needs to thrive in – moisture and heat. You are essentially wearing a virus petri dish on your face. Again, this is just my opinion, I am not a virologist or doctor.

Community Helps With Prepping Shortfalls

Prepper Community Email

Way back on January 22nd, 2020, in a prepper email list I’m a member of, one of the subscribers posted the following email:

I’m sure we’re all watching this situation play out. Not panicked but think it’s a good idea to make certain appropriate preps are in place.
1) personal protection equipment (n95, gloves)
2) hygiene (Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer,l)
3) symptomatic meds (Tylenol, ibuprofen, mucinex, pseudofed). Also Dextromethorphan (only if cough interfering with sleep)

If there is panic, these things will go fast

Any other thoughts?

BTW, You can join this email group here.

I am thankful for this group. I ordered a pack of 200 nitrile gloves the next day and another box that Friday (Payday). That, my friends, is on top of already having what I called my Pandemic Kit. A tote with gloves, masks, gowns, plastic sheeting, duct tape, blocks of pool shock (bleach) and even hand sanitizer.

The discussion continued with other recommendations after that initial list. By the way, this was a topic of discussion even before this email.

That weekend I bought more hand sanitizer and even more gloves. I’m so glad I did.

Fast Action Pays

Just days after that email I just shared with you was sent, on Jan 26 we had a thread on how N-95 masks and other supplies were already starting to dwindle on Amazon. That was very early in the coronavirus spread here in the US.

I think people panicked. There were other factors but in the end, the results are the same – The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll fill any gaps in your preps.

What Happened That Caused Everything To Run Out?

This section is completely skippable if you're in a hurry.

I wasn’t going to go here right now, but I feel I need to. Sure, people panicked, without a doubt. Blame that on the media, social media, our JIT supply chain, doesn’t matter. It happened. Every prepper understands this.

As far as the hoarding, I don’t think that was really the issue, for the most part. I read somewhere, and I wish I could remember where, that just by so many people staying at home would cause massive shortages in itself.

Think about it. People are at work or school for a third of their weekday lives. They’re using supplies provided by the company or school. In the case of toilet paper, that means a commercial product.

Almost overnight restaurants were closed or limited and people suddenly needed more food in their homes. They should be following our lead, right?

One more thing, is it hoarding when you tell a family that they may need to quarantine for several weeks if they begin to show symptoms and, to prepare, they go out and buy a month’s worth of food and supplies? I think they’d be crazy not to. Hopefully they’ll become preppers from now on but you understand my point.

My PPE Shortage – Gloves

In my best Trump impersonation,

We went through so many gloves. So many gloves it was amazing. So many gloves. No one could imagine ever having gone through so many gloves. It was incredible how many gloves we used.

Me sounding like Trump because it’s funny. So laugh dammit.

Seriously though, I was surprised how fast I was going through nitrile gloves and hand sanitizer.

First of all, we gave a lot to our older grandsons, my youngest daughter and my brother. That’s alright, I felt blessed to be in the position to be able to do that.

As a local delivery driver in Detroit, at every stop, I had a very tedious and stressful procedure I had created for myself. I won’t bore you with all of the details but at each delivery, each pickup, every stop including our terminal, I used hand sanitizer before and after putting on a fresh pair of gloves.

That turned out to be between twenty and forty pair of gloves and two small bottles of hand sanitizer – every single day I worked.

Need gas? Gloves and hand sanitizer. Stopping at the store? Gloves and hand sanitizer. Don’t even get me started on public bathrooms. 😉

The lesson here is we have enough, only because of the community and fast action. In fact, we’re on lock-down starting now – self-quarantining at home and we still have several hundred pair of gloves left, as well as about a gallon of hand sanitizer.

Another PPE Shortage – Masks

I’ve mentioned this before so I won’t go into another rant but we were being told at first that masks were not effective for COVID-19. We donated most of our masks, which I would have done anyway.

I would have, however, kept enough for our family’s personal protection. That shortcoming will never happen again.

I Hadn’t Tested The Goggles

While I did try on my Dewalt goggles, I didn’t test them for any real length of time. I certainly didn’t test them while wearing a surgical mask and folded bandanna in frigid morning temperatures.

I wear eyeglasses so I purchased the goggles to fit over my glasses. They do that, no problem. The problem was that both my eyeglasses and the inside lenses of the goggles fog and mist up so bad I can barely see. And forget about going back into a warm building, they become dripping wet inside.

This can be reduced with continuous adjustment and by avoiding temperature changes. Since we want to avoid touching our face, a better solution might be worth looking into. Personally, I like the idea of a face shield.

Lesson Learned: Test equipment the same as you’re going to need it.

Preparing For The Apocalypse?

I’m the furthest from a doomsday prepper one can be. In fact, many preppers would say I’m barely qualified to call myself a prepper.

I did have a bunch of protective coveralls. To be fair, these can be used to work on cars or when climbing around in the attic. They were in my pandemic bin though. I really haven’t found those necessary yet and I did donate most of them to a local veterinary clinic. They were happy to use them.

I’m almost reluctant to admit this, but many years ago, well over twenty years ago, I had a couple of military surplus NBC (gas) masks and suits. There’s nothing wrong with owning things like that, but I’d recommend getting very prepped on food and supplies first.

My point here is that when we focus on the worst possible scenario, we probably aren’t covering the more likely needs.

Here’s a real example: We prepped for an epidemic or pandemic. Suddenly we have the worst pandemic that anyone living in the world has ever seen.

While I prepped for this very situation, I imagined we would be locked inside our home, if we hadn’t bugged out. So why would I need hundreds of gloves or gallons of hand sanitizer?

Slight exaggeration but you understand, I never considered I may be working in the middle of the pandemic. Everything isn’t always all or nothing…

Sometimes we have to live life as we try to survive it.

Soon to be famous quote ~ Brian D. Hawkins

Cleaning Supplies – No PPE Shortage Here

Virus Killing Cleaning & Disinfecting Supplies
Virus Killing Cleaning & Disinfecting Supplies

It turned out we actually had more bleach, disinfecting wipes, sprays and cleaners than I thought. We even handed a bunch out to our family.

I had no idea we had so much. So the problem is not knowing. It could have just as easily went the other way.

We just got lucky. I had these cleaners in our pandemic kit as well as in our soap and detergent bin. They were in the kitchen and the bathroom, as well as my garage of all places. I keep the disinfecting wipes in our cars and the truck I drive for work.

I hadn’t anticipated that I would need to sanitize the cab of a tractor-trailer twice a day so I may not have even planned for enough had I seen COVID-19 coming. Again, we just got lucky.

Lesson learned: Plan for more than you need and keep a current inventory of everything.

I hope I’ve helped you prepare for the next epidemic or pandemic. I understand that it is too little, too late for this one. I pray that we never see anything like this again. I plan and prep for an even bigger one. That’s just what we do.

Other posts in the Early Prepping Lessons From The Coronavirus Series:

Be safe. Be prepared.
~Hawkins Out

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Brian Hawkins

Father, grandfather, Veteran, animal lover, law-abiding taxpayer, homeowner, trucker, and a United States Citizen. Oh, and I'm also a prepper, survivalist, responsible gun owner, and hiker.

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