by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:
If the news announced tomorrow that a pandemic had begun and that your area, in particular, was at risk, would you be prepared?
It was only a couple of years ago that Ebola arrived on the shores of the United States. By sheer luck (certainly not by a well-managed response) the virus was contained. I had been prepping for quite some time, and had dealt with lengthy power outages, winter storms, and nearby forest fires with aplomb, but when Patient Zero was diagnosed in Dallas, I realized that out of all of the things I was prepared for, a pandemic was not one of them. Sure, I’d have been better off than people who were completely unprepared, but I was lacking some vital supplies.
There is usually a little bit of warning before an outbreak becomes severe enough to warrant the title “pandemic.” It isn’t like The Walking Dead, where suddenly 80% of the population is affected overnight. With a pandemic, you hear a little hum about it before it gets bad. The World Health Organization makes some flyers, reports are given, and there is a mention on the evening news. But, generally speaking, officials are stingy with information because they don’t want to “start a panic.” This means that the judicious prepper needs to pay close attention when new viruses begin to be mentioned.
Now, just because a virus is mentioned, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to become a pandemic, of course. However, it can be an early warning sign that you need to get your ducks in a row. Think of it like a tropical storm. You hear about it gathering steam out over the ocean well before it ever makes landfall. Just because there is a storm somewhere in the Atlantic, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to hit, but it means that the wise person begins to pay closer attention to the weather reports, makes certain that the basics are stockpiled, and puts together a plan just in case the time to board up the windows arrives.
While the government is busy fanning the fear of Zika, I’m not convinced that is the one we really need to worry about. At this point, I find the potential of an avian virus to be more concerning due to its 30% mortality rate. (Learn more about the recently-discovered pandemic potential for the avian flu here.)
This doesn’t even touch on the potential for a biological attack, something that more and more people are sounding the alarm about. A biological attack could be delivered by drone, or even by a person who has been deliberately infected. In the book Failures of Imagination, which describes possible terror threats against America, one of the potential scenarios depicted some women who had infected themselves with smallpox, then went to Disneyworld in order to reach people who would be going home to places all across the country, quickly spreading a deadly illness.
What does pandemic preparedness entail?
It’s also very important to understand what you’re dealing with. You will have to make adjustments based on variables like how the virus is transmitted, how it is treated, the course the illness takes, and the virulence and mortality rate. Well before an outbreak occurs, you’ll want to have information on hand that will help you to plan efficiently. The book I recommend for this is Prepping for a Pandemic by Cat Ellis. This guide breaks down a number of different potential pandemics. You can use it ahead of time to help make your plans, and in the event of a pandemic, you already possess this vital information. Seriously, you need this book.
In the event of an illness that has a high death count, one of the most basic ways to avoid catching the illness is to go into lockdown. Avoiding contact with people who have the illness is the only way to prevent getting it. Isolating your family is the best way to stay safe and healthy. It’s low tech, doesn’t require an untested vaccination, and it’s highly effective.
This isn’t something most of us would be willing or able to do in ordinary circumstances, of course. Few of us can pull the kids from school, stay home from work, and refuse to open the door to the UPS guy for a period of 6-8 weeks. To make a move so extreme, the concern wouldn’t be about an ordinary virus – it would be about a serious, life-threatening contagion.
If the situation hits close enough to home that you decide to go it’s time to isolate yourselves, the rules to this are intractable.
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