For many people, when they hear the word Prepper, they tend to think about people who store numerous weapons, massive rounds of ammunition, have underground bunkers, gas masks, hoarding massive amounts of food, etc. These Preppers are often frowned upon by mainstream society and viewed as crazy radical people out there on the edge. But are they?
I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a moderate prepper by ensuring adequate insurance coverage, emergency funds, etc. In fact I posted a blog on this site about having an Emergency Fund back in 2017 titled: Do you have an Emergency Fund?
If one really thinks about it, most responsible people are “Preppers”!!! A good example of this are people who live in rural communities. If they have some sort of a wood stove for heating and live in colder climates, they will ensure that they have enough dried firewood to last through the winter. Depending on how far they live from the city, they will often have a well stocked pantry of supplies in case they are unable to travel to the city in the event of something like a bad snow storm. Farmers who have livestock will spend the summer ensuring there’s enough feed in storage to feed their livestock in the winter months. Some people who live in areas prone to tornadoes will have underground shelters to protect themselves and their families. The list of examples is endless.
However, in January 2020, my sense of preparedness kicked up a few notches.
Like many others, I was seeing different reports coming out of China regarding this new Coronavirus. Being a Nurse and having worked through different outbreaks, I was carefully watching the different reports. Then there was one report in particular that got me a little concerned. It was a news report on Global National on January 24, 2020. The report showed that a new one thousand bed hospital was rapidly being built in China, specifically to handle patients with the new virus.
After seeing that report/video, I knew things had the potential of getting a lot worse. Especially when there were previous reports of entire cities in China going into complete lockdown, I then started stocking up on different supplies. This included cleaning supplies, garbage bags, laundry soap, food, etc. Oh and yes, even toilet paper.
Around the middle of February I showed my wife what I had stocked up to that point. I remember her telling me that I was panicking. I indicated that no, I’m preparing. I stated that with her working in a Long Term Care (LTC) facility, there’s a higher risk of her workplace getting COVID 19 and our family possibly having to go into isolation for a period of time at some point. Little did I know, that would eventually come true. In the following weeks she began to periodically get extra supplies as well. We also ensured that my wife’s mother (who lives alone) was also well stocked with food and supplies.
March 17th, 2020 the province of Ontario had declared a state of Emergency. About two weeks prior to the Emergency declaration, there were numerous reports of panic buying around the world, including here locally. We were amazed at the huge lines in some of the different stores and in some cases completely empty shelves. Some stores were placing limits on the number of items per customer. My wife and I were thankful we had just missed all of the panic buying and had the supplies that we needed for a few months if needed. As different countries experienced second waves of infection of COVID 19 and various degrees of restrictions, various degrees of panic buying resumed.
When non essential stores were opening up again to limited capacity around April or so in 2020, I was standing in line outside a particular big box store. I remember turning to the guy behind me and mentioned that good thing this wasn’t the middle of winter. He chuckled and said that what he needed, he didn’t need that bad. Our brief conversation really got me thinking. There was a strong likelihood that we were going to be hit with a second wave of COVID in the Fall. Therefore, we needed to spend the summer preparing for the winter, just like many in rural communities do.
As part of that preparation we ordered a second freezer. What was interesting was that I was learning about the large back order on freezers. Depending on the manufacturer, some freezers were back ordered up to 6 months or more. I contacted a friend of mine in southern Ontario and she indicated that it was the same thing there, regarding freezers. So obviously many others were also planning ahead, if in the event we have a second wave of COVID. We lucked out on purchasing one of the last freezers that was in stock at a local appliance store.
I’m sure many people remember seeing media coverage of some of the long lines outside different food banks in 2020. As seen in this YouTube video.
Some of the lines stretched for miles/kilometers. It was sad to see so many people scrambling for food and supplies. Most of these people likely never had an emergency fund of money to carry them through prior to the different government support programs kicking in, or any kind of emergency supplies of food and other supplies.
By October we were pretty well stocked up on various foods and supplies to carry us and my wife’s mother through the winter. The last thing we wanted to do was stand outside in long lines waiting to enter different stores and run the risk of getting a cold or something worse while COVID was still circulating. We even had our motorhome stocked up with some basic supplies, if in the event one of us had to go into isolation.
Then it happened. In the first few days of December our entire household was somehow infected with COVID. I was not working due to an injury disability, my wife was using up some vacation time and our daughters were doing at home learning. As our contacts were incredibly limited, to this day we have no way of knowing for certain as to where we got it from, though one clue did eventually surface.
Our entire family of four was now in isolation. My wife unfortunately got COVID really bad and spent 5 days in the hospital. She was very close to having to go into the ICU. Thankfully they got her stabilized. Our youngest daughter had very mild symptoms while our oldest daughter and myself were sick like having really bad colds. We had persistent harsh, violent coughs. The local health unit was hounding me every day for updates and continuously grilling me on the different areas I had been prior to being infected. They were getting very frustrated as they had a hard time acknowledging and accepting that it was literally an unknown source of transmission.
Once my wife was home from hospital and the rest of us were out of isolation, I immediately went for a drive and parked outside the grocery store that I often went to and just watched people. The important clue as to how I got first infected was staring me in the face. I saw numerous people crossing paths close together as one set of people entered and the other set of people exiting the store. At this intersection of people in the vestibule, is where many people were putting on and taking off their face masks. Even though I always put my mask on when getting out of my vehicle, I likely walked past someone in that vestibule who was either in the process of putting on or taking off their mask and they weren’t exhibiting any symptoms.
I relayed my observations to the local Health Unit and their response was, “yeah we’ve seen that too”. This infuriated me as they never thought to do any kind of press release, educating the public of a potential source of transmission/infection.
In addition to COVID, I was dealing with a lengthy battle with insurance over a back injury that had dragged out for several years and the battles were getting worse. The insurance stress reached a breaking point on March 2, 2021. I spent nearly the entire month of March in the hospital after experiencing two back to back hemorrhagic strokes. Since this was during COVID, there were no visitations in the hospital. I was only able to communicate with my family by phone, or by video chat.
What followed was months of rehabilitation and not being allowed to drive until August 4, 2021. This meant not being able to drive for 5 months! When my wife first got out of the hospital in December 2020, she couldn’t drive for nearly three months due to COVID having a significant impact on her memory, concentration. Her speech was also significantly affected. When I was in the hospital and not driving for 5 months, her driving was still very limited until about May 2021 when she started driving more and more. Even when her driving was increasing, it was very limited to driving me to my outpatient rehabilitation appointments. We were very limited on when we could go out and get supplies for our family
As we celebrated Thanksgiving weekend 2021, we had so much to be thankful for. First and foremost, we were all thankful to have come out the other side after being infected with COVID 19. Considering there were documented deaths associated with COVID 19. We were also thankful that I survived the two hemorrhagic strokes, which could easily have killed me, had the bleeds been larger.
It’s incredibly important to note that we are also very thankful that we had the foresight to think ahead and did the Preparedness or Prepping that we did. Had we not done all of that preparing, things would have been alot worse for our family.
COVID 19 exposed a lot of things in our society. As mentioned, so many people fail to prepare for a potential emergency, such as not having an emergency fund and sufficient supplies.
As we moved forward into the fall of 2021, we once again stocked up on various supplies. Though it was challenging as my wife still hadn’t fully recovered from the debilitating effects from her COVID infection and not back to work yet.
Then in November 2021 the OMICRON variant of COVID 19 started rapidly circulating around the world. Various jurisdictions, including those in Canada were shattering daily case records as OMICRON was far more contagious than previous variants.
Prior to the Christmas break in 2021 I posted a comment online in the local media that suggested parents of school aged children should have their children bring their school supplies home on the last day of school. This was to prepare, if in the event the government shifted to online learning after the Christmas break. Many were not impressed with this comment at all.
Sure enough, on January 3, 2022, the provincial government announced that it was shifting to online learning for at least 2 weeks. In addition it was announcing new closures and restrictions due to the increase in hospital numbers from record breaking COVID 19 infections, primarily driven by the OMICRON variant. On January 3, 2022, my daughter contacted her teacher about what she had done with having her school supplies and asked what she needed to do. He praised her for being “Responsible”.
Many people frowned upon the different measures that we had implemented since the start of the COVID 19 Pandemic. Yet, we have shown on several different occasions that our preparedness and planning ahead helped us immensely.
Until next time, stay safe, healthy and strong.
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