Having received numerous requests for information on pandemic preparedness, I decided to write up something quickly to explain the basics for preparedness. Keep in mind, most of the preparations for pandemic disease are the same as for any grid-down disaster. When preparing for any disaster scenario, there are a few basic requirements: food, water, shelter, security, and medical, plus miscellaneous supplies. There’s a number of sources out there, from FEMA to preparedness companies. Keep in mind many of them have a monetary agenda whenever you go out doing research. I have no agenda, so I call it like I see it from personal experience and study.
For starters, since everyone is highly interested in Ebola in particular right now, I already have posts here and here explaining a few things about the disease and about preparing the home for pandemic. Beyond that, I’ll explain basic disaster material preparedness. I’ll explain a budget option and the ideal.
FEMA suggests each household have 3 days of food and water stored. While this is a good start for average natural disasters, for a grid down situation it is wholly inadequate.
Budget: 30 days complete meals for each member of the family. Make sure you’re able to build complete meals: protein, carbs, vegetables, and lipids. Study nutrition and understand the effects of malnutrition to avoid it. Preferably store food in dehydrated form to take up a minimum of space. Average cost: $50.
Ideal: 1 year complete meals for each member of the family along with the resources to grow sustainable food supplies.
Also store some food additives and food prep items such as salt, sugar/honey, basic spices, powdered milk, baking powder/baking soda, etc. Salt in particular is critical to human survival.
Budget: 1 gallon per person per day for 30 days. In addition to stored water, you need to have some kind of rain catchment device, as well as water filtration/purification sufficient for an extra month of filtration. Water purification tablets or common bleach can work just fine, as well as filters. The biggest expense here is the storage device.
Ideal: 1 gallon per family member per day for 1 year for each member of the family along with resources to catch and/or pump water as well filtration sources.
1 Primary Firearm (preferably a rifle) and 1 Sidearm per member of the family; 1 .22 varmint rifle. (This could be its own post so I’m going to stick to the basics. Not going into separate hunting rifles, DMRs, and full combat kit.)
Budget: Mosin Nagant carbines can be had for $150 or less and ammo is cheap and plentiful. Handguns like the compact KelTec PF9 are inexpensive and fire cheap readily available 9mm ammo.
Ideal: AR15 or AK pattern rifle. Full-size handguns like the Glock 19, a 1911 pattern handgun, or Springfield XD.
Budget: 250 rounds per primary, 75-100 rounds per secondary; 500+ .22
Ideal: 1000 rounds+ per primary, 500 rounds+ per seconcary; 2000+ .22
Ideally, in a disaster situation, you need to avoid leaving your home. That provides the bulk of your shelter. Should you be forced to leave, you need a sufficiently large tent or travel trailer to comfortably hold all the members of your group. Sleeping bags, blankets, etc for each member of your group are needed as well. Make sure sleeping bags and tents are rated to the climate conditions you can expect to face. In addition, have materials on hand to secure your home. Plywood boards at a minimum can be used to reduce access via doors and windows and provide for concealment, as well as make basic repairs; though labor intensive, sandbags can also add to defensive posture and provide cover. (Note: cover provides protection from incoming fire, concealment does not.) For pandemic security, check this link again. It discusses in detail what you need to have as far as PPE and the conditions for using it.
If you are currently dependent on prescription medications, you need to find a way to stockpile this. As a healthcare professional I cannot suggest how you can do this for legal reasons. You also need the following:
Gauze, tape, and topical disinfectant for wounds
Medicine to alleviant symptoms of cold/flu/fever/inflammation/diarrhea/vomiting/allergic reaction, etc. Look at the basic medications in your medicine cabinet. Now double or triple that amount of medication and store it separately so it isn’t used.
Isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide
30 days supply (per family member) of the following: amoxicillin, penicillin G, doxycycline, and/or sulfamethoxazole. (Note: antibiotics are useless for viral diseases like Ebola, but are critical for preventing secondary infections; also keep in mind if things get bad enough, you won’t be able to access basic medical treatment to get antibiotics.) How are you to get these, you ask? They can be ordered online, marketed as ‘fish antibiotics’. It’s one of the darker secrets of the pharmaceutical industry: the exact same pills that are marketed as fish antibiotics are given to humans, at a fraction of the cost and without prescription. The FDA-required markings on the pills match identically to those marketed for human consumption (I have personally checked this against both online drug guides and my own and so far have found no discrepancies). Do your research and check your dosages. Print off drug information ahead of time, don’t count on having access to the internet when the SHTF.
If someone in your group has professional medical or even veterinarian experience, stock more advanced medical supplies such as IV supplies. If you are not trained to use advanced medical equipment like IVs, airways, decompression devices, and the like, you can do far more harm than good trying to use them. Some survivalists suggest stocking these supplies even if you can’t use them, in the event a trained individual becomes available but does not have supplies.
This, combined with the links I provided, addresses some of the basics for preparedness, but really only scratches the surface. If you have any particular questions, feel free to ask.