How to prepare for a pandemic

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In recent years, the scientific community has voiced concern over the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Diseases that could once be treated are becoming increasingly difficult to stop as they mutate and evolve into more lethal strains.  To make matters worse, as the world’s population has steadily grown and travel from one continent to another is becoming more common, the possibility of spreading a human infectious disease outside the borders of a country from which it originated is adding to the problem.  When this happens, governments and authorities are no longer capable of controlling the disease within their borders resulting in a pandemic.

Over the years, humanity has suffered from various pandemic diseases causing millions of deaths worldwide.  Just between 1918 and 1920 alone, 50 million people worldwide died from the Spanish flu. More than 100 years later, the Influenza strain continues to plague us, as the virus mutates and develops at a rapid pace, making it difficult to stop.  

While no one knows exactly when the next pandemic will happen, with proper preparation and knowledge, you can ready yourself and family to increase your chances of survival. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the steps you can take now to prepare for a pandemic.

Is the United States ready for the next major pandemic?

As the scientific community has pointed out, the next pandemic is not a matter of if, but when, many experts are voicing their concern that the country is not yet prepared for the next pandemic. They’re saying that a lot needs to be done in order to be ready when the next pandemic occurs.  What are some of the things that concern them?

  1. Overuse of Antibiotics – One of the main reasons for the country being ill-prepared for the next pandemic is the overuse of antibiotics.  The report stated that antibiotics are commonly misused in the health sector as well as in the agricultural sector when most of them are not medically needed.  This creates a problem since viruses and bacteria are known to evolve and develop resistance to antibiotics.  If this continues, antibiotics will soon be useless in fighting bacteria and viruses.
  2. Disruption in the Supply Chain – Another cause for concern is the disruption in the supply chain.  The country’s medical supply is limited based on a made-to-order basis only.  A disruption in the supply chain could cause major medical supply shortage in the country.  This already happened in 2017 when the U.S. had a shortage of intravenous bags when the country that made them, Puerto Rico, was devastated by Hurricane Maria.  And with the country dependent on certain drugs coming from India or China, it’s not hard to see that a similar problem could happen again if a disease was impacting other nations as well.
  3. Cooperation with Governments around the World – Diseases don’t respect borders, so this problem is a worldwide problem.  This shows just how important it is for governments of the world, as well as institutions like the World Health Organization and UNICEF, to work together to address this problem.  Having strong relations with the international community is key to help prevent a disease from becoming a pandemic.

Unless something is done to address these issues, the next pandemic could be even more devastating to the country.  This makes being prepared even more crucial.

How to Prepare For A Pandemic

Having knowledge along with being prepared will go a long way in making sure you and your family will survive a pandemic outbreak.  Here are some simple approaches to get you started on being prepared:

  1. Prepare your Home – When a pandemic hits, governments and medical experts usually advise people to stay in their homes and avoid contact with people.  If you’re an introvert, well, you’ve just won the lottery. If the outbreak is severe, governments may be inclined to make it a widespread order to try and contain the disease and prevent it from spreading.  If you’re going to be required to stay in your house for a prolonged period of time, you need to make sure that is well prepared.
    1. Your home would need to have a dedicated sick room that will only be used by people who are sick and no one else.
      1. The Urban Prepper recently did a video detailing this setup.  I won’t go into great length in this article, but I highly recommend you check out his video. Just click the link and it will take you to the video.
      2. Make sure to have a dedicated room which has a door or at least a plastic shower curtain to ensure that it is separated from the rest of the house and be sure to clean the room daily using bleach.
    2. Your home will also need to have an area where you can store a 3 to 6 month worth supply of food and water.
    3. You should also have these supplies and items:
      1. First Aid Kit
      2. Battery-operated radio
      3. Simple backup power systems like a small gas or solar generator
      4. Flashlights
      5. Medical book and other medical information you might need
      6. Household items and cleaning supplies
      7. Toilet paper
  1. Have ample supplies – After preparing your home, the next thing you need to prepare are the supplies you and your family will need.  You need to make sure that you will have enough so you won’t have to go to the store when the outbreak happens. You never know how long you’ll be required to stay in your home, so it is advisable that you have enough supplies that can last for a month or more.
    1. Medicine is one of the most important supplies that you need to have on hand, especially if someone in your household gets sick.  Having these basic supplies can provide relief for certain illnesses:
      1. Cough medicine
      2. Cold medicine
      3. Fever medicine
      4. Stomach ache medicine
      5. Anti-diarrhea medicine
      6. Pain relievers
      7. Vitamins
      8. Prescription medicines (for people who are sick and taking medication)
    2. Food and water are also critical supplies that you need in your home.  It is important to plan to stay in your home for the duration of the pandemic, so you need to have enough food and water for everyone, including your pets. 
      1. You’ll need shelf-stable foods that you and your family usually eat since these won’t spoil easily. These includes:
        1. Canned soups, vegetables, meat, and fruits
        2. Rice
        3. Pasta
        4. Protein, granola, or fruit bars
        5. Dried beans, lentils, or peas
        6. Pickled vegetables
        7. Dried fruits and nuts
        8. Instant soup mixes
        9. Flour
        10. Crackers
        11. Oats
        12. Cereal
        13. Chicken, beef, and vegetable bouillon cubes
        14. Liquid seasoning
      2. For water, prepare to have one gallon of water per person per day.
      3. Fluids that have electrolytes (such as Gatorade or Pedialyte) in the event any of the inhabitants experience diarrhea due to the illness.
      4. Dry or canned pet food for your pets (if you have any)
    3. You’ll also need household items and cleaning aids in your home to help you clean and disinfect your house to keep germs and bacteria from spreading.  This includes the following:
      1. Toilet paper
      2. Kleenex
      3. Hand sanitizer and soap
      4. Garbage bags (one for disposing of regular waste and another for medical waste)
      5. Disposable plastic gloves
      6. Bleach or any surface cleaner
      7. Alcohol
      8. Diapers (if you have babies or small children)
  1. Create An Emergency Plan – It is also important that you have an emergency plan prepared in case things get worse or complicated. 
    1. One important emergency plan that you need to have is caring for your kids (if you have them).  When a pandemic strikes, schools and daycares will be closed for a prolonged period. This could be a problem if you are still required to come to work during this scenario.  Here are some tips on how you can prepare:
      1. You should have an emergency fund that can sustain you and your family for a certain period in case you need to stop working during the pandemic.
      2. Gather information on how your company handles pandemic situations so you will know what you can and cannot do during the emergency.
      3. You can talk to close family members, friends, neighbors, or even the community to help you care for your children in case a pandemic happens and you’re still required to work.
      4. Talk to your spouse (if you’re both working) and see if the family can survive with one source of income for a while so the other can stay home and care for the kids.
      5. Try to find information on how the local government or community can provide assistance during the pandemic, so you can factor that into your decision.
    2. Another emergency plan that you need to consider is an evacuation plan in case you need to leave your home to go somewhere safer. Though staying home and trying to avoid contact with people is the primary goal, you cannot rule out the possibility that you and your family may need to go somewhere that is safer and disease-free should the situation in your area worsen.
      1. You should know when is the right time to evacuate or leave your city or town.  Is it when the neighboring town or city is already experiencing the pandemic? Or when someone in your town is already affected by the disease?  This is a decision you’ll need to make in advance as time will not be in your favor.
      2. Identify places that you and your family can go to that are not already impacted by the pandemic should you be able to leave your area.  Do you have relatives or friends in that city or town that can help you? Do you have a remote location or cabin you can get to before your area is quarantined?
      3. Decide on what form of transportation you and your family will use and have alternative routes in the event the main roads are closed off.
      4. You should also plan what you need to bring and how long should you stay there in your secondary location.
    3. Be sure to have a plan in place in case you or someone from your family becomes infected.
      1. Will you take them to the hospital or treat them at home?
      2. How will you quarantine the sick from everyone else?
      3. What assistance can your local government or medical experts provide?
      4. Who and how will the sick be cared for?

Conclusion

Infectious diseases becoming a pandemic is an issue that has plagued human beings for thousands of years.  Diseases respect no boundary or nation and will easily move from host to host in ways scientists may not be able to anticipate until it is too late.  Though we have already experienced many advancements in the field of medicine, the rapid evolution of virus strains and bacteria is making it hard for scientists and medical experts to be one step ahead.  This has resulted in some drugs and antibiotics becoming useless against certain pathogens.

And this is also why you need to be prepared in case another pandemic strikes. If you have thoughts about this article or additional tips, please post them in the comment section below.  If you enjoyed the article, please share it on social media. As always, be safe out there.

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