(Originally published 12/14/18)
Living off the grid is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint and lower energy costs. But what happens when there’s a global emergency, like a pandemic of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the bird flu, or another disease? Are you prepared for a pandemic?
The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as the spread of a new disease around the world. A global pandemic of a previously unidentified strain of influenza or another illness can spread quickly and take weeks or months to get under control with medication or vaccines.
You need to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones, whether you’re living near a big city or on the side of a mountain range. But basic survival preparedness isn’t enough when you’re dealing with a global pandemic.
Even though there hasn’t yet been a global pandemic up to this point, health experts warn that it’s not a matter of if, but when one will strike. A pandemic could wipe out millions of people around the world.
Whether it’s triggered by a mutant strain of an existing virus or the result of bioterrorism, the only way to survive the devastation of a global pandemic is by making sure that you’re prepared with some practical advice and the right supplies.
How to Prepare for a Pandemic
You may not be able to prevent or control a pandemic, but you can take measures to stay protected if one strikes. Your first step in pandemic preparation should be to talk with your family about the possibility of a pandemic and enlist them to help you create an emergency plan.
Discuss gathering up important paperwork and health records in a safe place that’s easily accessible. You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of necessary prescription medicines on-hand and talk about how your family members want to be cared for if they fall ill.
Next, you should stock up on at least two weeks’ worth of non-perishable food items, such as oatmeal, canned meat or fish, and granola bars. If you’re not already growing your own supply of fresh food in a garden on your property, you might want to consider planting one to ensure that you won’t run out of things to eat during a disaster.
You also need to make sure you have access to enough clean drinking water. Either store plenty of bottled water in your home or consider learning about how to make your own survival water filters if you don’t have the storage space.
Remember that you can only survive three days without water. Staying hydrated is key to surviving in any emergency, but especially during a pandemic. If you’re suffering from the flu or another disease, having plenty of water could mean the difference between living and dying.
While having basic survival items like adequate food, water, and shelter are crucial when it comes to making it through an emergency, there are some especially important supplies you need to have ready for surviving a pandemic.
5 Must-Have Items for Surviving a Pandemic
To keep your family safe and healthy during a pandemic, you need to keep airborne contagions out of your home. Preventing the invading disease from infecting your loved ones is critical, which makes stocking up on these top 5 pandemic survival supplies a vital part of your preparedness plan.
1. Disposable Gloves
Latex or nitrile exam gloves are an important part of your pandemic survival kit. They should be kept in an airtight container to prevent them from being exposed to germs, bacteria, or other illness-causing pathogens.
During a pandemic, you should wear disposable gloves any time you’re coming into contact with something outside of your home, which will help to keep disease out of your safe haven. This is especially true if you’re taking care of someone who’s already sick or when exposed to any bio-hazardous materials.
2. Eye Protection
Just as gloves will keep your hands from being exposed to possible contagions, you also need to protect your eyes from any exposure to disease. Goggles or a face shield will protect the mucous membranes in and around your eyes from the infected droplets that enter the air any time someone coughs or sneezes.
This is especially important if you’re caring for a family member who has already fallen ill or if you need to leave your home and venture out into a populated area. Remember, the more people that are around, the higher the risk of becoming infected yourself.
3. Respirator Mask
A reusable respirator is an excellent defense against contracting everything from the common cold to a virulent strain of the flu. They’re also a great way to prevent spreading germs if you’re the one who has become sick.
Look for a respirator mask that’s both lightweight and designed to create a complete seal once it’s in place. During a pandemic, you might need to wear a respirator much more frequently than you think, so look for one that’s comfortable, durable, and capable of being locked into place for a custom fit.
In case you need to leave your home for any reason, you should be sure to have enough pandemic respirator masks on hand for every member of your family, in order to keep them safe from the contagious dangers of the outside world.
In the absence of a respirator maks, a surgical-type face mask can provide protection from airborne germs while you are out in public.
4. Disinfectants and Antiseptics
Disinfectants are another key part of preventing the spread of disease during a pandemic. You should keep plenty of antibacterial cleansers and liquid sanitizers on hand to keep surfaces free from bacteria, viruses, and mold. This is especially important for areas where food is prepared and where people will be relieving themselves.
Antiseptics do for the skin what disinfectants do for hard surfaces. You need to stock up on antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizers as well as antibacterial hand soap. These are crucial for times when you’re handling food or caring for sick family members, or any other time your hands could be in contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth. The mucous membranes in those areas are gateways for disease, so be sure to sanitize your hands before touching any part of your face.
5. Medical Supplies
You also need to keep some key medical supplies on hand in the case of a pandemic. Your emergency medical kit should include some staples like bandages, antibiotic ointment, and other essential wound care items. Do your best to make sure your first aid kit is as complete as possible, while also keeping it lightweight enough to be portable.
Stock up on basic over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers and fever reducers, cough suppressants, and anti-diarrheal medicine. In the case of a pandemic, there is going to be a rush on these items, and they will be some of the first things to become unavailable, so you want to make sure you have enough for you and your loved ones.
Another item you might want to add to your stash of medical supplies is a probiotic supplement, which contributes to healthy immune and digestive system functioning. Making sure that you’re getting enough of the good bacteria that are found in probiotics can help your body fight off bad bacteria and viruses that come with a pandemic event.
The future is always uncertain, but the right means of preparedness can make all the difference when disaster strikes.
Jordan McDowell is a writer and content strategist. He specializes in technically oriented B2B and B2C content and frequently writes about health and safety for companies like Moldex.