By Mike Sokol
These are the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls.
I used that quote that last week, and it’s even more true by an order of magnitude this week. Just a few months ago we had little idea of what was in store for us all (the human race). But now we’ve looked into its eye, and it ain’t pretty. COVID-19 has become front and center of everything we do, changing our social lives, our work lives, even our shopping lives. But I won’t go into all the things to panic about. Instead I’m going to tell you what I’m personally doing to help with the situation and suggest you find your own positive ways to help.
“Don’t sit there and whine that you have nothing to do. Open a bottle of wine and figure out some way to help.” —Mike Sokol
Yep, my brain has been in overdrive the last few weeks finding ways I can help. So I’m going to outline a few of the things I’m currently working on, as well as suggesting some ideas you might consider to help yourself and others out.
#1) I’m launching my RVelectricity™ Webstreaming this coming Thursday, April 2, at 1 p.m. EST. What gave me the kick in the butt to do this was that I’m supposed to be in Tucson, AZ, today teaching an RVelectricity seminar for the FMCA. But it was cancelled two weeks ago and I’m all dressed up with no place to go.
So I’ve bought a pro version of Ecamm software, ironed my pretty red shirt with the atomic logo, and set up my office for livestreaming. Until we are back to normal (and probably long after that), I’ll be livestreaming a different 20-minute RVelectricity™ Webcast every week, along with a 3-minute Video Short. That way you will have a continuous stream of information on all things electrical as it relates to RV power (and maybe more).
No, I really don’t have a sponsor for this yet, but I’m sure one will come. But I’m not going to sit around and worry – I’m going to teach. So if YouTube is my classroom, then you’re all my online students. All you have to do is subscribe to my RVelectricity™ YouTube channel.
#2) I had a call from one of my best friends who’s helping a neighbor with a 3-D printer produce dozens of safety masks for medical centers in the area. Hard to believe, but we know dozens of local nurses and healthcare workers (some working in the COVID-19 area of our hospital) who still don’t have face masks.
So, when the call came in about some guy lacking clear plastic for the face shields, I helped engineer a new way to do this that saved him a bunch of assembly time, and also supplied him enough stock from my own inventory to build 300 masks. I also found a source and ordered another 300 pieces of this special stock, and I have another 300 pieces still on the shelf. So, my small contribution will help keep up to 900 health care workers safe by providing them with free face masks. If the hospitals can’t do it, then my friend and I are willing to help.
#3) My wife has been comforting family members on the phone for the last several weeks since they’re all terrified of the Coronavirus, and she’s doing a great job of keeping them calm. And we have a few family members who may have been exposed and they’re now self-isolating.
I’ve ordered a few small comfort items for them and hung them on their door after carefully disinfecting them. Then we call them from the safety of our car and tell them their goodies are on the door. It’s not a lot, but even a box of your favorite decaffeinated breakfast tea can mean a lot when you’re stuck in the house and can’t go out.
If they need anything really important I’ve offered to do a store run while protecting myself. Yes, I used to work in a class-100 clean room back in the ’80s building missile guidance systems, so I know a good bit about avoiding contamination.
#4) One of my grown children can’t go to work right now, and since he was already taking online classes for his Master’s degree, he asked the teacher to let him work ahead. He’s spending 5 hours a day taking his next class on his computer. He loves it and has been getting 98% grades so far.
Those are some of the things I’ve been doing, so here are some other possibilities for you. Some are whimsical while others can save lives. Don’t sit there and whine, do something…
#1) Consider setting up your RV as a possible isolation room. You may find a family member has contracted COVID-19 and needs to be isolated from the rest of the household. What better place than your RV trailer in the backyard. But get your power hooked up to it now before you really need it. And no, a cheap orange extension cord doesn’t qualify. If you already have a pedestal on your house, that’s great. Or at least get the heaviest and shortest extension cord that will fit and get it hooked up.
#2) Don’t hoard things. No, we’re not going to run out of toilet paper anytime soon, so you probably only need to stock a few months ahead. I’m pretty sure nobody needs to buy a year’s supply or install a bidet adapter on their toilet right now, but that’s happening. Ugh.
#3) If you can sew, there are some sewing clubs making surgical masks for heath care workers. While what you’re sewing won’t be N95 rated, workers can wear them over top of their limited supply of N95 masks, thereby extending their life.
#4) Paint or make something pretty and give it to a friend that needs a lift. Depression is dangerous so anything that gets their mind off of this situation for a few minutes can help.
#5) Put in a garden and learn how to can vegetables. It’s better than eating processed food anyway.
#6) Design something useful and start making them for sale on Etsy or give them away locally if you can. I really like this little kid’s hat with a protective face shield, but use your imagination. Don’t overprice them on Etsy, please, as many people are out of work, so be fair.
#7) Start a Facebook group and post ideas that can help keep everyone safe. Here’s one created by my colleague Nichole Wheeler called MAP – Maintenance Awareness Prevention – with ideas to keep safe and sane. I just posted about using an iPad rubber-tipped stylus to avoid touching the screen on your ATM or gas pump with your fingers. Works great. And I love the post about using doggie poo bags as quickie gloves (saves the glove supply) when you have to touch doorknobs or whatever. Really great ideas. (Editor: Here are more rubber-tipped stylus pens on Amazon.com, if you’re interested, since the one Mike mentioned is almost out of stock.)
#8) Make sure you read Chuck’s Coronavirus updates here on RVtravel.com. He’s working hard to keep you, our RVing readers, informed about RVing and staying safe in these challenging times.
#9) Move your body, for heaven’s sake. We’re mostly sitting on our couches now, so find an online program on Yoga or stretching or whatever exercise you like (or can at least tolerate) and start doing it on a regular basis. Outdoor walks are encouraged as long as you stay 6 feet from anyone. Take your dog for a walk – he or she will enjoy getting some fresh air and exercise, too.
#10) Stay healthy from other medical problems. You do not want to go the hospital right now for a broken leg, or heart attack, or anything else for that matter. So don’t take any risks (no bungee jumping or chain sawing trees) and just chill out until this all blows over. I’ve talked to a few medical industry insiders who say they expect to be fully overloaded very soon, and you don’t want to be part of the problem. And be sure to order your regular medications as far in advance as you can. Don’t expect your pill order to arrive in a week – better plan for a month or more of delivery time, or as far in advance as they let you order.
Oh, and if you have any ideas to help out, please tell us in the comments below.
I hope this helps inspire you to find something you can do to help. Finally, as I always say (and it’s even more true than ever) – Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.