Shelter in Place | How to Stay Safe in a Pandemic

stay safe

In recent weeks, we have all been bombarded with mainstream news reports about the Ebola virus.  Most of those reports indicate that we have nothing to worry about.

Alas, as preppers and survival types, we worry about pandemics and runaway viruses, along with the myriad of other disasters and disruptive events that may occur at some point down the road.

Many of you may remember the book festival author, FJ Bohan.  He and I have stayed in touch and as it turns out, he has become a friend of my site, Backdoor Survival on many fronts.  He is someone who has walked the walk when it comes to living the preparedness lifestyle, so when he has something to say, I listen.

With Ebola in the news, Frank has written to me about something we all should be concerned with, namely how to safely shelter in place during a pandemic. What he has to say is important because while we may be familiar with the need for plastic sheeting and duct tape when sheltering in place, what about fresh, filtered air?

An Open Letter from FJ Bohan:  How to Shelter in Place During a Pandemic

Dear Gaye and Backdoor Survival readers:

The concerning events of the last few months have had me thinking about writing you.

There are many threats to U.S. citizens in the news. Ebola, along with nearly every third-world disease we as a nation had eliminated decades ago, is back at our door and infiltrating the nation as the masses of illegal immigrants are (transported by our own government), reaching every corner of the country.

Meanwhile, the CDC is busy issuing guidelines to hospitals and mortuaries detailing how to handle Ebola patients and the proper disposal of bodies, but it has yet to announce whether or not Ebola is now an airborne pathogen.

It is for these reasons I fear there may well be a pandemic coming our way soon.

I want to let you and those who follow your website know how to protect themselves and their loved ones should a pandemic crisis come to their neighborhood.

If, indeed, Ebola (or any other virus) is airborne (spread through the air/breathing), isolation is the only true protection. Difficult choices will have to be made by anyone in an area that is infected. Once it has been decided to stay home from work and shelter in place until the pandemic passes the community, protecting the home will be the next step.

Having stored food, water, and other living essentials already at home may prove to be a lifesaver. Imagine taking your vacation leave in order to protect your family, only to catch the virus while standing at the checkout counter of the grocery store?

In neighborhoods with confirmed cases of infection, filtering your air might be the only thing that prevents you from acquiring the virus.

In my book, Emergency Air for Shelter-In-Place Preppers and Home-Built Bunkers, I detail how to take a regular wet/dry vac along with a HEPA filter and convert them into an air filter for the home/shelter/bunker.

Using a wet/dry vac to keep air clean | how to shelter in place

Ordinary wet/dry vac

Of course, I want everyone to buy my book which covers much more and in greater detail, but everyone needs to know this information.

By using a shop-vac type vacuum (purchased virtually anywhere) along with a HEPA filter that fits the unit and by following the FEMA guidelines for shelter-in-place (using plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal a room or shelter), anyone can make a flow-room, of sorts, to protect them self from airborne viruses.

Keep air clean | How to shelter in place during a pandemic

By drawing air from outside of the sealed room and running it through the HEPA filter, the vacuum’s exhaust port will be blowing filtered air into your room. Airborne contaminants will be contained in the vacuum (see my book for details of how to seal the vacuum).

how to safely shelter in place

Even though viruses are smaller in size than the HEPA can filter, they (viruses) generally lack the mass to penetrate the electro-static shield formed over the filter as air flows through it.

I would advise sealing an inner room of the home and drawing air with the vacuum/filter from an adjacent room.

Stay home and indoors.

Do not open your doors to infected people.

Remember to run the vacuum/filter for 10 minutes every half hour and allow a small opening near the floor for CO2 to escape into the adjacent room while the vacuum is running. This will keep the sealed room’s air supply fresh.

NOTE: Failing to run the vacuum or failing to use the system at all will see everyone dead from suffocation!!!   Sealing a room without a filtered air system is just like putting a plastic bag over your head. You will run out of breathable air! Do not follow any FEMA sealed-room instructions without using a filtered air supply!!!

I know, Gaye, you have read my book and realize how important this issue is.  Please feel free to share this letter of concern with your readers.

How to Stay Safe in Pandemic?

Sheltering in place is not difficult.  In the simplest of terms, you take some duct tape and plastic sheeting, add some ventilation and and seal yourself up in a room.

Just don’t forget that you will also need some emergency air as well a food, water, lighting and amusement (games, puzzles, reading material) to get you through the sheltering period.

The Final Word

In our effort to be prepared, it is easy to overlook some of the basics. Having clean, filtered air during a pandemic can be coupled with protective face masks thus assuring that you will be as safe as you can be.

For more information about hunkering down safely during a pandemic or really, at any other time you need to stay put, be sure to read Preparing to Hunker Down in Place and Surgical Masks for the Survival Kit.

Want to know more? Check out these related articles:

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 10, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

7 Responses to :
Shelter in Place | How to Stay Safe in a Pandemic

  1. Anthonyk747 says:

    I have a question.

    If the pandemic gets severe enough, this article doesn’t take into the probability that the Electric Grid will have to be shut down, forcing someone to have a Generator of sorts, whether that be a Propane Genny, a Gasoline Genny, a Solar Genny, or a Wind Genny.

    So, better idea (although, yet untested), why not use the already existing home’s vents in order to flush out the C02 and bring in the clean air? You can just place filters over top of the vents to ensure that no “dirty air” gets in.

    On top of this, but this article doesn’t take in the fact that your vacuum could decide not to work (for whatever reason, as technology is so reliable…).

    So, honestly, in my opinion, I believe that a system that operates on its own and is effective, yet efficient is the best option.

  2. obsidian says:

    You must gird your loins and harden your heart.
    In An Ebola epidemic where civil law and order and society collapse,
    Without very sophisticated and expensive wardrobe of PPE clothing you will not be able to help, nurse or even comfort the infected, not your wife, kids or the neighbors.
    If your family, friends get sick with Ebola they will have a 90% certainty they will die no matter what heroic measures you take, if you care for them, comfort them physically hold their hands, you have a 90% certainty you will die.
    If they die and you decide to bury them proper or just sling them into a hole you will have a 90% certainty you will die.
    The sick must be left alone, quarantined from everyone, alone until they die or get well, if they do by some miracle do survive and get well without care they will be invalids, body mind and spirit as well as mental acuity for up to six months or more, their immune systems compromised and will catch any other disease out there and before dying pass that disease on to you also.
    Once they do die their bodies must not be handled, touched or moved left to rot in place or anyone who moves them, handles them or even stands close enough to bury them in place will have a 90% certainty they will die.
    The sick must be left alone, quarantined, to die in place and left to rot.
    Contact with anyone outside your family, friends or group for what ever reasons will not be allowed, tolerated upon pain of death and shot on sight, left to rot where they fall.
    No One who leaves the group and wanders off for any reason will be allowed to return. upon pain of death and shot on sight.
    The treatment of sick and injured, strangers and those who wander around a lot is in a word Draconian.
    You say this is harsh!
    Reality is, A fully staffed and prepared hospital, with a trained staff, proper PPE gear and DECON room and gear still had one nurse become infected despite all the most expensive equipment and training to be had. AND THEIR PATIENT STILL DIED this after 70 staff and doctors tried valiantly to save him.
    You, me, Us with nothing but what we can beg, borrow or steal cannot match that type of care and safety.
    In an Ebola epidemic the sick must be left to die, and then rot in the place they fall. 90% contagious, 85% lethality, 21 days incubation.
    One Patient so far has infected one person known, two possibles, one of those possibles is a homeless man whose whereabouts are unknown.
    So one infected three, that means three can infect nine, and nine can infect twenty seven, and twenty seven can infect eighty one, eighty one can infect two hundred and forty three.
    The way it works is, one gets sick, the care giver gets sick after that, then everyone who gives care to the sick and who ever handles the bodies.
    Hunting? You will not hunt in an Ebola epidemic.

    1. Nunya says:

      Well Obsidian, according to you we may as well lie down and die then. Nice.

  3. Rebecca Stiller says:

    Goodness gracious. I appreciate the concern for safety and I agree that emergency preparedness measures are wise. However, the overall tone of both Gaye’s website and Frank’s letter is that of an “us” (“normal”, middle-class, presumably Caucasian) and “them” (“third-world”, “illegal immigrant”) mentality. That kind of thinking is more dangerous than any pandemic – I would hope we’ve learned from the past that arbitrary divisions between humans are useless. Furthermore, Ebola isn’t spread through the air, so this entire post is not even relevant to the current pandemic concern, but only serving to create unnecessary fear.

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