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Right now, the United States is experiencing the worst flu season in nearly a decade. Hundreds of people have died, and as of this writing, the flu virus continues to spread rapidly. Experts thought it would peak weeks ago, but it still hasn’t. Currently, no one knows how bad it will get.
All of this has got me thinking about pandemics. Of all the major disasters that could happen in the near future, a pandemic is one of the most likely. Here’s why.
First of all, it’s happened before, so we know it will happen again. It’s a simple historical fact that pandemics happen on a fairly regular basis. Plus, we live in an urbanized world where someone with a contagious disease can hop on a plane and spread it to another country immediately. Not to mention all the strange new research being done in labs around the world. What if they accidentally create a deadly virus they can’t contain?
In a 2006 TED Talk, epidemiologist Larry Brilliant discussed a conversation he had with a panel of fellow epidemiologists in which 90% of them believed with some certainty that Earth would see a devastating pandemic within the next two generations. The panel described this hypothetical yet likely pandemic as one that would infect over one billion people, kill 165+ million people, and cause a global depression.
The likelihood of such a devastating pandemic is concerning, to say the least. Thankfully, there are ways you can increase your chances of survival. First, it’s important to be able to see the signs leading up to a widespread pandemic so that you can begin taking preventive measures.
Warning signs of a pandemic include unseasonal outbreaks of flu, unusually large absences from school, work, or church, increased activity from uniformed physicians from the United States Public Health Service, and any other unusual signs.
If the day ever comes where you begin to notice these signs, you will certainly benefit from having been prepared. With that in mind, here are the top 25 supplies you should have on hand so you can survive the next pandemic (in alphabetical order):
1. Antimicrobial Masks – These aren’t entirely effective at preventing you from inhaling air-borne pathogens, but they are magnitudes better than having nothing at all.
2. Antibacterial Soap – Another layer of disinfectant defense. Be sure to have plenty of antibacterial soap on standby.
3. Bleach – When cleaning your home, be sure to use large amounts of bleach to help kill off any pathogens. You can also use it to purify water (just make sure it’s regular, unscented chlorine bleach with between 6 and 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite).
4. Bottled Water – In the case of a pandemic, your water supply might not be safe to drink, so you will want to have ample storage of bottled water on hand.
5. Duct Tape – Aside from being useful for a wide number of other applications, you will need duct tape in addition to plastic sheeting in order to construct a quarantine area.
6. Echinachae Tea – This is my favorite tea, partly because it helps boost the immune system.
7. Emesis Bags – Better known as vomit bags, emesis bags make dealing with a sick person who is vomiting much less problematic and, more importantly, less dangerous to those around them.
8. First Aid Kit – During a pandemic, medical facilities will be overwhelmed (they’ll also be the last place you want to visit unless you have to) so be prepared to take care of minor injuries yourself with a good first aid kit.
9. Goggles – Protecting your eyes from contact with infected fluids and material is crucial, so invest in a quality pair of goggles.
10. Hand Sanitizer – I only use this when there’s a bad bug going around, and then only after I’ve been out.
11. Heavy Duty Trash Bags – Once you dispose of an infected item or material, the last thing you want is your trash bag tearing open and spilling it out, so invest in a supply of heavy duty trash bags.
12. HEPA Filter – In the same way that antimicrobial masks can filter the air that you inhale, installing a HEPA filter can help filter the air that goes into your home.
13. Kitty Litter – Kitty litter can be used to soak up the fluids of a sick person, making them easier to clean up without coming into contact with them.
14. Over-the-Counter Medications – In addition to stocking up on your prescriptions, you will want to ensure that you have plenty of over-the-counter meds such as painkillers, cough suppressants, and anti-diarrheal medications available as well. These items will fly off the shelf during a pandemic.
15. Plastic Gloves – These are indispensable in a pandemic, allowing you to touch people and things that may be infected without worrying about coming into direct contact with the infection.
16. Plastic Sheeting – Plastic sheeting can be used should you need to create a space to quarantine someone who has become infected or to seal off a space to shelter yourself.
17. Prescription Drugs – Prescriptions are difficult to stash away, but for the same reason it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit, it’s a good idea to have a supply of any prescriptions you might require.
18. Probiotics – During a pandemic, anything you can do to strengthen your immune system is worth doing.
19. Rubbing Alcohol – This can kill almost any bug out there, allowing you to completely disinfect your home, tools, skin, and anything else that that might need it.
20. Sports Drink Powder – Drinks like Gatorade or Powerade, or anything with lots of electrolytes will be important for keeping yourself hydrated if you do get sick.
21. Thermometers – No touch thermometers were used extensively during the last Ebola outbreak, and for good reason. They allow you to check a person for fever without having direct contact with them.
22. Toilet Paper – Proper sanitation is essential to keep a pandemic from spreading, so stock up on toilet paper and any other sanitary items you may frequently use.
23. Tyvec Suit – Disposable tyvec suits offer full body protection, making them a great idea if you have to leave your home or come into contact with an infected person during a pandemic.
24. Vitamin C – Another great way to boost your immune system. I like to take EmergenC because it also includes other important vitamins and minerals, and it tastes really good.
25. Water Purifier – If you don’t want to rely on bottled water during a pandemic, you can use a water purifier, but not a water filter. Most filters, even the kind preppers put in bug out bags, won’t filter out viruses. For that, you’ll need to boil your water or use a high-quality water purifier.
With all of these supplies on hand, you’ll be as ready as you can possibly be when the next pandemic strikes. What pandemic supplies did I forget?