The thought of a pandemic is pretty scary. Is there anything you can do to protect yourself if a disease is spreading across the entire world? Yes!
Surviving a pandemic is best done by preparing ahead of time and knowing what you need to do to not spread the disease around your home once it starts to spread in the community.
The real way to keep yourself as protected as you can is by preparing ahead of time. Don’t listen to the people that try to act like preparing ahead of time is for crazy people! We all have insurance and prepping isn’t any different than an insurance plan for disasters.
Preparing for a pandemic before one begins is the best way to protect you and your family. On top of helping you, it also helps the community because you’re one less willing victim that the local and state government officials are going to have to save when things go bad.
The first way to prepare for a pandemic is by getting rid of the attitude that nothing can happen to you. Guess what? Just because you live a relatively easy life, doesn’t mean that nothing bad is ever going to happen to you.
Store the Things You’re Going to Need Ahead of Time
Store the supplies that you’re going to need if you have to spend a couple of weeks in your home. We live in a just in a world that relies on just in time delivery of everything from food and water to gas and medicine. If you don’t plan ahead and store the things you need before something happens, you’re going to have to try to rely on a system that can’t support the strain that a pandemic will put on it.
Simply put, if you wait to try to get the things you need until the last minute, you’re probably not going to get them.
The DHS suggests having a 2 week supply of food and water. I personally suggest having 4 weeks of food and water stored.
This is what you need for a long term quarantine:
- 5-gallon bucket with trash bags and kitty litter – You can pack most of the items in the 5-gallon bucket and it will double as a toilet by lining it with a trash bag and pouring about an inch of kitty litter in the bottom.
- 1 gallon of water per person for as many days as you may need to quarantine – A case of bottled water is just over 3 gallons.
- non-perishable food for each person for the length of time that you’ll be quarantined for.
- Household chlorine bleach (unscented with no additives) – You can add 16 drops per gallon of water to disinfect it or mix 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to make a disinfectant cleaner.
- Pool shock (73% Calcium Hypochlorite and 70% available chlorine content) – Allows you to mix bleach at home and has a much longer shelf life than bottled bleach.
- Battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA weather radio
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Several N95 dust masks per person
- Disposable rubber gloves
- Clear goggles or protective glasses – Allows you to cover your eyes to prevent possible contamination by airborne particulates.
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal around the plastic – Enough to seal all doors, and vents for an isolation room if needed.
- Surgical masks – For anyone in the house that may get sick.
- Heavy gauge garbage bags – For disposing of potentially contaminated waste.
- Anti-bacterial hand soap
- Clorox wipes
- Hand sanitizer – 60 – 95% alcohol
- Handheld spray bottles – For bleach disinfectant mix.
- 1-gallon sprayer (like this) – For disinfecting larger areas.
- Diapers and formula
- Food and water for pets
- Can opener if you pack canned food
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
- Prescription medications that will last you for the entire quarantine
Over the Counter Medicine
Over the counter medicines are easy to get when everything is going well, but when things start to go bad, they can be hard to come by.
I suggest starting by boosting your immune system boosting medicines because our immune system is still our best way of beating a disease. Cough suppressants can help limit the spread of and disease but I prefer expectorants since they thin mucus and can help you clear your respiratory system when mucus starts to build up.
Most diseases are going to be accompanied by a fever. Tylenol and NSAIDs will help reduce your fever and get rid of any body aches you may have.
Over the counter medicine to stock:
- Immune system boosting OTC medications – Emergen-C and Airborne
- Cough suppressants (usually has the active ingredient dextromethorphan)
- Expectorants (active ingredient guaifenesin)
Read our article on home quarantine to learn what to do with step by step instructions.
Don’t Forget to Check on Family Members
If you have elderly family members or other family members that need special assistance, you should check on them as soon as you feel something like this may happen.
You may want to temporarily move them in with you until the pandemic looks like it’s over. At a minimum, you should take them the supplies they’ll need to make it through a quarantine and any prescription medicines they need.
Most experts agree that some variation of the flu is the most likely disease to cause a pandemic.
What Happens When a Pandemic Occurs
According to the CDC, pandemics happen when a new disease occurs that is easily transmitted from person to person in a sustained way. This happens when diseases can be transmitted for a long period of time while remaining asymptomatic.
How Diseases Spread
Learning how diseases spread is one of the best ways to keep yourself from getting sick. Avoiding the things that spread disease will keep you from getting it and keep you from spreading it to others.
Direct contact with a person or animal with the disease is probably the easiest way to get a disease.
Infectious diseases can be spread through these different means of direct contact:
- Person to Person – One of the most common ways that disease spreads is between people. This can be through bodily fluids, coughing, sneezing or sexual contact.
- Animal to Person – Being bitten or scratched by an infected animal can make you sick. This goes for pets as well. Animal waste can also spread disease if you’re exposed to it.
Many types of diseases can stay on surfaces for hours (or even days). When you touch the infected surface you can then transfer the disease to yourself and others.
Another common means of transferring disease is though insect bites. Some of the worst epidemics in history have been transferred by fleas. Mosquitos are another really common insect that spreads disease.
Contaminated food can spread disease too. E. coli is a common bacteria that’s transmitted through food contamination.
Individuals can also help reduce the spread of disease by:
- Keeping your hands away from your face.
- Coughing and sneezing into your arm, not your hand.
- Keeping common surface areas clean and disinfected.
- If you get sick, stay home.
How likely is a global pandemic?
The World Health Organization has been saying that we need to increase our focus on global pandemic for years. As I’m writing this, COVID-19 is still spreading across the world and has just started to spread in the U.S. among people with no travel history that would expose them…community transmission. I’m going to say the chances are very high!
Even if COVID-19 dies off and never really becomes a massive disaster, there’s always the next disease that’s coming. Be prepared and get stuck in the mentality that nothing will ever happen to you.
How long would a pandemic last?
A pandemic isn’t going to just be one wave of the disease and then it’s gone. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says that it will take 3 months for a disease to spread to the pandemic level with modern means of travel.
They also say to be on the lookout for 2 or 3 rounds of the disease and for the entire pandemic to last between 12 and 18 months.
During a true pandemic, many services that you’re used to will probably be discontinued, at least temporarily. Banks, stores, post offices, utility companies, and even hospitals may all shut their doors.
Medical facilities will probably try to stay open for as long as they can and the government will likely try to force local utilities (like electricity and water) to stay up for as long as they can as well.
Even if medical facilities are open, they’re going to be packed full of people that are contagious. Think carefully before you head to the hospital and be sure that you can’t treat yourself at home.
ATMs and gas stations will probably be out of money and gas. Have some emergency cash on hand and some extra gas in the garage. I don’t think the gas will be gone because of increased demand, but gas probably won’t be getting delivered.
Once everything really kicks off you need to do what you can to stay healthy.
- Avoid interacting with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands often.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
A global pandemic is probably one of the most likely threats that we face. If we prepare ahead of time, then it’s more likely that we’ll be safe and make it through the pandemic. If we don’t prepare then we’ll be at the mercy of public health offices that are overwhelmed.
I personally won’t ever blindly put the lives of my family in the hands of others.