It’s not if, but when, the next pandemic will hit. Whether that’s in five years or another 100 years (if we’re lucky), COVID-19 taught all of us lessons on how to prepare.
The scary, predicted food shortages we dreaded never came to full fruition. But you may recall toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, and other household goods were picked clean from grocery store shelves every day. In some places, they’re still hard to come by.
There are numerous personal steps we can all take to prepare for a future pandemic. Sure, COVID-19 isn’t over quite yet, but consider stocking up your pantry with nonperishable food and water, make a plan with your family on steps to stay safe, and have a “bug-out bag.” Of course, you’ll want a face mask to protect you, and we mean that beyond any pandemic, because masks like our OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) can save lives in events like wildfires or other disasters.
Beyond personal considerations, there are ways for your community, city or state to be prepared, too. Leadership needs to step in and step up for the next time. A global pandemic hit an entire world that really didn’t know what to do, but after the initial shock wore off, many of us were left wondering why leaders weren’t more prepared. Here are three ways to urge or prod your leaders, whether on a national or local front, to prepare for next time, especially when it comes to stockpiling face masks.
Call or write your senator/councilperson
This one’s pretty standard, but it can’t hurt to send an email or call your local senator or even councilmember or local commissioner and ask what they plan to do in the next emergency. Is there a plan? What are the next steps? How are they preparing your community? Do they have a local stockpile of masks ready and a safe distribution strategy in place?
Write an op-ed, letter to the editor, or comment on posts
Write an op-ed piece for your local paper or a letter to the editor on how leaders can be urged to take more action for the future. This might be considered old school, but plenty of people still read the opinion pages of newspapers and letters from readers. Elected officials certainly care about the opinions of their constituents, and this is one of the best ways to catch their attention. Don’t have the time to compose an article or a letter? Leave comments on articles posted by news organizations or engage on their social platforms when they post stories that relate to COVID. Tag your local leaders in the posts.
Any good politician will hold town hall meetings to meet with constituents. True, these are mostly online for the time being, but there’s always time carved out for comments. Ask questions about preparedness. Are there enough masks stockpiled? How will these be distributed? Keep it civil and merely ask. Listen, but also make your voice heard.
Urge your leaders to be prepared and push them for a national plan for stockpiling face masks. Though we began our journey of creating ORM long before COVID-19 was an issue, we believe our mask can be the lynchpin (and an effective one!) to a solid plan that will keep our cities safe for the next disaster.