Not surprisingly, survivalist and entrepreneur Christian Schauf has seen more interest than ever in his Uncharted Supply Company since the coronavirus hit. You might have seen him and business partner Mike Escamilla on NBC’s Shark Tank back in 2018 (when the then-Wisconsin-to-L.A.-transplant spoke about his surprise at the lack of survival skills in our city to which his Angeleno partner was good-naturedly defensive- as we might all be). The guys ended up getting an investor in “Shark” Robert Herjavec and the emergency preparedness company -which sells survival kits suitable for natural disasters that include everything from masks and googles to water filters and tools- was doing steady business even before the pandemic. His message of preparedness is more resonant than ever, and not just because of Covid-19; two 3.5 earthquakes hit near Palm Springs just this weekend. But how do we all make sure we’re ready to for what may come without making ourselves crazy? We asked Schauf to share some thoughts and tips on survival for these uncertain times.
I started Uncharted Supply Company in 2016 to prepare the everyday person for the unexpected. After driving through a California blizzard one winter and seeing dozens of drivers stranded and unprepared, I was inspired to create a brand that would help people during times of the unexpected. Uncharted works closely with first responders, doctors, special forces operators, mountain guides and other experts to develop each one of their products — ensuring that you can be the hero of your own story. As many of us adjust to this new life of staying indoors, I’ve broken down my best practices for staying safe during COVID-19. Below, my top tips for staying sane and healthy.
Be Prepared, But Don’t Panic.
As we’ve all seen in the past few weeks, it’s clear that the way many Americans are prepping for the Coronavirus is panic-buying and stockpiling items like toilet paper. While the memes and social media content generated from this frenzy have provided some comic relief, the negative effects of stockpiling are real for many Americans.
It seems obvious, but it’s worth saying: when you buy in bulk, there are less items available to other people. And unfortunately, this usually affects those who can’t afford to buy in bulk. And, when other shoppers enter a store and see empty shelves, this just continues to perpetuate the panic-buying cycle.
So, my suggestion: buy what you need and don’t go overboard. Yes, it’s smart to buy a few extra days worth of groceries, but not every toilet paper roll at Costco. Make sure you have an adequate amount of medication, food, and first aid supplies.
What’s The Deal With Air Masks, Anyway?
Air masks can be helpful when you’re around people that are infected. The two main types of air masks we hear when talking about COVID-19 are surgical masks and N95 masks. Surgical masks protect against spray (think coughing and sneezing) and are generally not reusable. These types of masks are best used by people who are already sick, and want to avoid spreading germs to others. Because surgical masks don’t filter out particulates in the air, they are not considered to be as effective from protecting against Coronavirus. On the other hand, N95 masks are designed to filter out any non-essential particulates, ensuring a healthy person doesn’t breathe in outside viruses and bacteria. These masks also often have a tighter fit and can be reused, making them a highly resourceful and effective option for protection from Coronavirus.
As with toilet paper stockpiling, since the outbreak of COVID-19 began in the United States, I’m seeing increasing cases of people hoarding masks. Not only does this prevent other civilians from buying masks, but most importantly, it causes mass supply shortage issues for our healthcare professionals as well.
The CDC states that facemask priority should go to those engaging in the following activities: “For provision of essential surgeries and procedures, during care activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated, during activities where prolonged face-to-face or close contact with a potentially infectious patient is unavoidable, and or performing aerosol generating procedures, if respirators are no longer available.”
Recent studies about the spread and effects of coronavirus across the United States indicate that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals can transmit the virus by speaking, coughing, or sneezing. In light of this evidence, the CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures might be difficult.
Hospitals are in such short supply they’re pleading with manufacturers to increase supply. The very people working the frontlines fighting this pandemic are being left without appropriate protection. If you’re sick, by all means, use or buy a mask to protect others around you. Just do so thoughtfully and buy only what you need.
Why Self-Quarantine Matters
By now, most Americans have probably seen charts or heard professionals referencing “flattening the curve” and “social distancing.” But I’ve had a lot of people ask me, does staying at home really matter?
At this time, one of the most important things U.S. citizens can do is to slow the rate of the virus. We do this by staying at home. When more of us stay home, less people become affected, and we’re able to slow the amount of people requiring medical attention from hospitals. Most hospitals are not equipped with enough beds and respirators to accommodate the potential number of people who will need hospital care. We do not want a situation where hospitals are turning people away.
Take this time to check in with yourself and others. I see the three most important areas to focus on as self, family, and community. Exercise, nutrition, and rest are also important. All of these things make you more resilient, more focused and more effective. Do this for yourself, and lead by example. Encourage others, like this silly 10 push up challenge going around, to do little things to be stronger.
Hard times make us stronger. We will survive this, and the knowledge and experience of going through this will make us stronger the next time. Just make sure you’re taking the necessary steps this time around to stay safe and healthy. Not just for yourself, but for everyone else as well.
My Final Thoughts
In this incredibly difficult time, control what you can. Get some exercise. Turn the news off. Talk to someone you trust who is level headed. Reach out to your loved ones. Make sure you’re prepared for the unknown and get comfortable being uncomfortable. We’re in this together.
Schaur offers stories and live feeds from himself and preparedness experts on Intragram at @unchartedsupplyco. Uncharted Supply Company’s SEVENTY2 Pro survival bag, M5 airmasks and N95 respirator masks are currently sold out but taking backorders here.