Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

SARS, H1N1, bird flu, dengue, the list goes on. Living in a large city in Asia (Singapore), epidemics and pandemics are the biggest things I worry about ... of course, that could come from living through SARS in Hong Kong a few years back.

So how do you survive in a city gripped by concerns about plague (SARS, bird flu, etc.)?

First, remind yourself of the numbers. As tragic as SARS was for families effected and as big as the numbers appeared - something like 1700 total infections in HK with about 300 deaths, it isn't a large percentage of the population in a city of 7 million. At its height, your chance of getting infected was still very low. So panicking, not a good idea.

Second, use the web or news to watch for clusters and other information. During SARS, several websites popped up tracking infections by location in the city. There were also facts and rumors popping up all over the place as well like the day the rumor started that HK was going to be declared a closed port and there was a run on the grocery stores. If you can trust government sources, I'd use them or the WHO was another good option for information.

Third, always have supplies on hand. If you are worried about possible disease (and we were more worried about what it could turn into than what it was), keep some provisions in place. Many emergency preparedness sites will suggest options for a "go bag". In addition to a good sized pantry of food, we kept lots of antiseptic lotion and n95 masks on hand (we may have been overly cautious, but my wife was pregnant at the time and the treatments available would have meant choosing between no treatment or losing the baby, so we were cautious).

So if we have SARS part deux in Singapore - I will use local sites to keep tracks of disease regions or perhaps Ushahidi, WHO to tell me about precautions to take and treatment options, emergency preparedness sites to tell me what I need on hand, and basic population data and statistics to keep things in perspective because a city with everyone wearing surgical masks and nearly empty subways is likely to freak anyone out.

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Comment by PJE on April 25, 2010 at 6:55pm
When Sars was high on the agenda I started a stock, water, tins and stuff that I kept in the garage. They went rusty and the water bottles looked dusty and unappetising. Recently, I have met an extraordinary woman who reminds me of my grandmother. My grandmother brought her children up during WW2. This friend really understands about good food 'french style'. Her husband goes to kill family pigs before christmas to make sausages and paté. In January or February she makes duck paté and cassoulet. It all gets jarred up (I hope you are not a vegetarian at this point in writing. Anyway she makes jams and jars of veggies too!) What I have learned through her and also through Evoke is to have a store. As in 'good things in store'.
The thing about a store is that it is used and renewed used and renewed. I love it. Every time I go in there I get a feeling that I have at lat learned to do something good! I wish more people see this post!
PJE

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