Pandemic Preparedness Guide For Communities and Individuals
The stench of death hung heavy in the air as bodies were routinely piled onto carts and hauled away for incineration. Doctors in long spooky masks and flowing black robes visited homes, but could do little to prevent infection.
Friends, family and neighbors all died horrible deaths at the hands of this disease, and it was only a matter of time before the Black Death got you too.
It was the same with everyone: painful bumps and tumors would spread quickly from groins and armpits, black and purple splotches then appeared on limbs as they got sicker and sicker until finally blood started gushing uncontrollably from their noses – Black Death’s final symptom.
And as if all of this was not bad enough, the social order of the world collapsed violently in the wake of the pandemic.
Looters ran rampant, and lawlessness spread as families and human decency abandoned each other in terrible panic.
Death was on the streets and in the air.
The Black Death took hundreds of millions of lives when it spread across Europe in the years between 1346 and 1353. Thankfully, the world has yet to experience anything quite like it since. But that could change in an instant.
In fact, every couple of years a new viral or bacterial infection rears its ugly head and rattles the global sense of security. Swine flu, HIV Aids, and Ebola are all recent pandemics that while relatively contained, are clear reminders of the horrors a widespread uncontrolled global pandemic would be.
Since the black plague, society has invented new technologies to help combat the spread of pandemic diseases. We have organizations like the WHO and an almost unlimited supply of medicine and antibiotics – which has changed the nature of the problem.
However, most scientists fret about the next “Big” outbreak. The one that antibiotics and organizations cannot contain. Overuse of antibiotics has become so rampant; diseases are adapting, evolving, and rendering our greatest lines of defense useless.
It takes just one super-sickness to break loose and runs wild, and the only thing that is sure to help you survive is your pandemic preparation. So what can you do to prepare for a dangerous pandemic?
COMMUNITY PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS
Reaching out to your community may at first seem counter-intuitive. Why would you reach out to your community when talking about a highly contagious disease? Shouldn’t we be avoiding contact with others?
But remember, we are talking about pandemic preparedness (before the disaster) and not pandemic survival (after the disaster). Once a pandemic sets in, you will absolutely want to limit your exposure to others.
So in the meantime, gather the Home Owners Associations, assemble the town hall meetings, and rally the troops! You are safest when your community takes the necessary measures to prevent the spread of disease. Plan for the worst.
Preparing at a wider community scale can do wonders to limit the spread of a disease locally. If a neighborhood or town can work together to create a simple neighborhood quarantine, the chances of pandemic survival increase dramatically.
Agree To Avoid Community Hubs
Large congregation areas and travel hubs (i.e. bus stops, train stations, airports, etc.) are the most dangerous points for pandemic transmission. Come to an agreement with your community to avoid these places in the event of a pandemic spread; it will significantly decrease the chances of mass contamination.
Agree To Limit Travel
When a nasty disease is spreading quickly, travel is best kept limited. No long road trips or school field-trips. You don’t want to catch the disease and spread it even further.
Put A Plan In Place To Quarantine The Infected
Isolate and treat the illness as appropriate. If members of your community are infected, then try to isolate them in their homes or healthcare facilities. Strategic isolation will help to limit the spread of disease while making it easier for volunteers, nurses, EMT’s, and doctors to treat the sick.
Agree To Use Your Vacation Time and Keep Your Kids At Home
Schools, daycares and children’s camps should all be closed while the pandemic is a threat. Take some time off! These areas are notorious for helping nasty viruses, and bacteria spread like wildfire. Kids are really good at spreading sicknesses. Normally it is just a case of the flu or pink eye, but in a pandemic emergency, these places become grave hazards.
Agree To Cancel All Community Functions – Communicate Using Phones or Radios Only
The community should distance itself socially. Your friends will just have to survive without you for a few weeks. It is for everyone’s own good. Limiting interactions with others while the disease is at large helps limit the opportunities a virus or bacteria has to transfer from one human being to the next.
The one benefit to all the latest communications devices nowadays is being able to communicate with others from great distances. If modern communications are still available (smart phones, radios, the internet) then take advantage and “stay in touch” from a safe distance.
Start A Community Emergency Stash
For small, tight-knit communities, keep an emergency community supply cache stashed somewhere within your neighborhood or town. Who knows how long a pandemic might be dangerous?
It is possible that all survival supplies will become scarce even if you have your own personal cache of survival supplies. Being selfish may sound harsh, but your own supplies won’t last long if you try to help others.
If there is a public supply of necessities, it decreases the likelihood that your neighbors will come breaking down your door to get their hands on some canned corn and bottled water. Having a community stash may help keep the peace. You should store:
- Non-perishable food (dehydrated, or canned)
- Stored water
- Water purifiers
- Medicine and medical supplies
INDIVIDUAL PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS
While having a pandemic prepared community is great, the most important person to protect is numero uno. The fact that you are reading this means that you are several steps ahead of most. So here are some additional steps YOU need to take to ensure that you don’t get sick.
Stock Up On Specific Pandemic Preparedness Gear
Pandemic Rated Mask
The odds are, for a disease to reach epidemic global pandemic levels, it will need to be readily transferable through the air we breathe. So any unfiltered will become littered with the infectious particles. Wearing a high-quality pandemic mask is your first line of defense in such a scenario.
Duct Tape and Plastic Drop Cloths
You won’t want to wear a mask 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So you need to turn your home into a sealed up safe zone. Plastic drop cloths taped over windows, doors and any other potential leak points will help to create these safe zones in your house.
You can also create small quarantine zones within your entrance/exits. In these areas, you can create simple procedures for your family to sanitize themselves with sanitation wipes and disinfect any personal items with Clorox bleach before entering the interior safe zones.
Like lungs, eyes are one of the most common entry points for pandemic viruses. If the disease is in the air and your eye are exposed to the air, its a recipe for contracting the illness. Eye goggles will help to keep your eyes protected when in area’s outside of you safe zone or when taking care of sick family members.
As humans, we use our hands to do nearly everything. So our hands are our most common body part to come into contact with objects. The objects that may be contaminated. Having lots of disposable gloves on hand will help prevent you from getting the disease on your hands in the first place.
Some diseases are so contagious and intense that you’ll want to go all out and keep the germs and viruses off your skin. A properly designed and worn Tyvek suit will keep your skin disease free.
A bio-hazard bag is a location dedicated for any disposable item that may have come in contact with a pandemic disease. Disposable gloves, rags, wipes, needles, etc. Keep them in bags labeled to prevent accidental exposure to others.
Diapers (buy sizes for all family members)
Depending upon the pandemic, humans may have severe diarrhea. It may also leave the infected too weak to get to a bathroom. In such situations, you’ll be glad you have a way to contain the mess with diapers.
Similar to having diapers, having vomit bags designed for and dedicated to vomit will ensure proper containment of the infected bodily fluids as well as proper disposal.
NOTE: You need to buy these items TODAY. If you try to buy these items after a pandemic sets in, millions of people will also be trying to buy these items. There will not be enough supply for everyone. So if you wait, it could be too late.
So if you wait, it could be too late…
Keep Your Body Fit and Healthy
The simplest, most effective way of keeping yourself safe from disease and infection is to STAY HEALTHY. The stronger your body and the more efficient your immune system, the less chance there is you get sick and die a horrible death.
Being healthy also means eating well, exercising regularly, going to the doctor for check-ups, staying hydrated and so on. Besides reducing direct exposure, nothing will help protect you more than staying healthy.
Keep Your Regular Survival Stock Topped Up
Similar to any disaster scenario you want to stock up on the necessities for living. In the previous section I mentioned having a community supply cache – which is an excellent idea, but don’t rely on it completely.
Keep a cache of supplies for yourself, and be thorough about the list of things you keep stocked:
- WATER is the most important thing you can store. If the faucets stop working for whatever reason (like if no one is manning the power station due to illness), anyone who doesn’t have water on hand is going to be in trouble. It is best for people to consume 1 gallon per person per day, so supply accordingly.
- Non-perishable food is necessary for obvious reasons. Keeping a stash of top sirloin steaks ready for the end of the world would be amazing, except for the fact that they’ll all go bad before you get the chance to enjoy them. You may not love canned or dehydrated foods, but they are your best bet for staving off hunger should food become scarce.
- Medicine and medical supplies are useful for obvious reasons. Here is a thorough guide to building a medical kit. The biggest thing to remember about storing medicine is that it expires, and you will have to keep close tabs on which medications go bad and when so you can replace them.
- Vitamins are also great for boosting immune functions, so keeping an extra tub of multivitamins handy is a good way to prepare for a pandemic.
- Survival tools are always useful, especially when you are trying to limit human-human interaction. If a pandemic is at large, and you want to minimize your exposure it probably isn’t good to have repairmen and other visitors coming and going from your home. As long as the disease is spreading, repairs are a DIY issue.
- Cleaning supplies aren’t something a lot of people think about when they are preparing for the worst, but they are important! Soaps, sanitizers, disinfectants, and rags are always handy to keep around – especially in a pandemic emergency when sanitation is VITAL.
- Gross as it sounds, having a portable toilet with disposable linings might save you a massive headache should your water stop working. Without a flush feature, your house toilet isn’t going to work for very long.
- Basic household items become more and more useful the longer you have to hold out. Zip lock bags, garbage bags, duct and electrical tape, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, buckets, anything that is useful in day-to-day life is going to be extremely helpful when you don’t have access to stores.
- Minimize your exposure. As the pandemic sweeps through society killing people off and leaving millions ill the safest way to live is in solitary.
- Don’t go outside (especially if the disease is airborne) more than necessary.
- Stay away from sick people entirely, and do your best to stay away from people in general (even healthy ones) – you never know who might be carrying an illness without displaying symptoms yet.
- Wash your hands, and shower often. Stay clean, and keep your home clean and sanitary – the disease is more likely to infect you if your hygiene is poor.
- Cover any open wounds immediately, disinfect and keep clean until the injury is healed. Open skin is ripe for infection.
- Rest up! Get a lot of sleep so your immune system is strong and rested and ready to fight for your life.
- Stay informed. If you do not hear about a pandemic before it sweeps across your area, chances are you are not going to make it. Watch the news, read articles and stay tuned into current events. If you keep yourself informed, you will probably have a longer head-start to prepare when the pandemic strikes.The longer in advance you know about a disease emergency, the higher your chances of survival are – so try to stay on top of it. The CDC and the WHO are both excellent resources to keep an eye on global health situations and threats.
THE FINAL WORD
We see pandemics in TV shows and movies. We read stories about them in novels and history books. They are everywhere in popular culture: in shows like The Last Man On Earth and The Walking Dead, in bestselling novels like The Stand and comic books, and in at least one movie per year like Contagion.
Our culture is seemingly obsessed with the idea of a pandemic spreading and wreaking havoc on our society.
As functions of entertainment, pandemics are great! But should the fantasy become a reality, should a worldwide epidemic disease manifest, it is not going to be fun to watch. People close to you will probably die. The social order of your community may start to break down into violence, looting and riots; and anyone who isn’t prepared for all of that is not going to last very long.
People close to you will probably die. The social order of your community may start to break down into violence, looting and riots; and anyone who isn’t prepared for all of that is not going to last very long.
The Black Death is an example of how a disease can cover great distances quickly, and leave millions dead in its wake. It took Europe generations to recover from those seven years of hell. It left a permanent stain on history, a scar that we will never forget because it was so horrifying and apocalyptic.
It left a permanent stain on history, a scar that we will never forget because it was so horrific and apocalyptic.
Today there are billions more people on Earth than there were when the Black Death ran rampant. And our transportation systems are unimaginably more complex and efficient – the stage is set for an aggressive and rapid pandemic emergency. It is like a dry, dead forest that is just waiting for a spark.
Last year we almost saw Ebola escape Africa to infect the world. Luckily, the dynamics of the virus was not such that it became widespread. Quarantines were effective in the US this time, but what strain of virus or bacteria will be the next pandemic? Where will it manifest? And how long would we have before it strikes?
No one can answer these questions. The best anyone can do is prepared for the next pandemic emergency as best as we can. Follow this guide – make personal additions or changes as necessary.
Pandemic Preparedness Action Plan Recap
- 1 – Get A Community Conversation Started
- 2 – Develope A Community Pandemic Preparedness Plan (could be done on a small neighborhood level instead)
- 3 – Buy The Essential Pandemic Preparedness Gear
- 4 – Get Your Family On Board and Discuss A Plan To:
- Seal Your Home With Plastic
- Limit Travel
- Check Your Survival Stock Levels (water, food, medical supplies, etc.)
- 5 – Practice Sealing Your Home and Wearing Your Pandemic Gear
If you have any additional ideas or personal tricks for pandemic preparedness please share them in the comments below.Click Here To Learn More.