Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Although biological weapons of all types are outlawed under the Geneva Convention, the threat of a biological attack has remained a very real threat ever since mustard gas was first deployed in the trenches of WWI.
In fact, a threat assessment provided by Congress in 2018 said, “Biological and chemical materials and technologies — almost always dual-use — move easily in the globalized economy, as do personnel with the scientific expertise to design and use them for legitimate and illegitimate purposes.
Information about the latest discoveries in the life sciences also diffuses rapidly around the globe, widening the accessibility of knowledge and tools for beneficial purposes and for potentially nefarious applications.”
In other words, as technology advances and becomes more readily available to rogue players on the world stage such as Iran, North Korea, ISIS, and others, the threat of a biological attack is rapidly growing. With that in mind, we thought we’d cover eight tips that you can use to increase your odds of surviving biological warfare.
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What Will Biological Warfare Look Like?
The most frightening thing about a biological attack is its ability to fly completely under the radar until it’s too late. Unlike a nuclear attack, which would be immediately obvious the minute that missiles went airborne, a biological attack could go mostly unnoticed until the death toll starts mounting.
In the early stages of biological warfare, US officials are likely to think that they are dealing with a pandemic – and that’s after the effects of the attack have been noticed at all. It will likely take some time and many deaths before officials realize that the pandemic they are facing is of man-made origin.
Even more frightening is the fact that a skillfully-engineered microbe could be used to target specific age groups and/or specific races, making biological weapons an effective means for everything from killing off fighting-aged men and women to kicking off an ethnic cleansing.
As for how a biological weapon could be introduced into the US population, there are a number of possibilities. Contaminating the water supplies of highly-populated cities is one efficient means to ensure as many people as possible are infected during the initial stages of the weapon’s launch.
Releasing contaminated pests such as rodents or mosquitos is also another possibility. Perhaps one of the more concerning possibilities for how a biological weapon might be introduced, though, is through imported products such as soaps, perfumes, and more.
Depending on where these products originate from, a bioterrorist may have a much easier time getting their hands on a large shipment of US-bound products than they would by bringing the bioweapon itself into the United States.
However bioterrorists go about releasing their weapon, the death toll from such an attack has the potential to be staggering. During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 – the deadliest pandemic in human history – 500 million lives were lost.
At the time, this amounted to one-third of the world’s population. Unfortunately, a bioweapon that is specifically designed to be as lethal and viral as possible could potentially end up claiming even more lives than this.
Suffice it to say that biological warfare is a very real and concerning threat. If you would like to protect yourself against this growing threat, here are the eight tips that you need to know.
1. Keep an Ear to the Ground
The most important key to surviving a biological attack is awareness and preparation, and the sooner you know what you are dealing with the better. If you want to have as much advance notice as possible, keep an eye out for media coverage of disease outbreaks.
If an outbreak seems suspicious, you’ll want to begin preparing for the possibility that the United States has been hit by a biological attack. Call in sick to work, pull your kids out of school, grab any last-minute supplies you might need, and hunker down.
Keep in mind that the keys to surviving a natural pandemic are almost identical to the keys to surviving a biological attack, so it doesn’t really matter all that much in the end whether the disease is man-made – if you notice signs that a dangerous new illness is spreading through the country, it’s time to act.
2. Stockpile Medical Supplies
In the event of a biological attack, hospitals across the country are going to be overrun within a matter of days. As frightening as it might be, you really can’t rely on the medical system to save you if you begin noticing symptoms that you’ve been infected. This means that it is essential to stockpile your own medical supplies as best as you are able.
While prescription antibiotics are something that can’t really be stockpiled legally, you can still stockpile a number of other important supplies such as fever reducers, anti-nausea medication, and other over-the-counter medications, as well as other supplies meant to help prevent you from being contaminated in the first place such as masks, gloves, plastic sheeting, and disinfectants.
3. Prepare to Make a Quarantine Room
In the event that someone you care about becomes infected following a biological attack, you are going to need to quarantine them in order to prevent them from spreading the disease to other members of your household.
Fortunately, all you need to make a quarantine room is plastic sheeting and duct tape. Cover a designated room in your home with plastic sheeting and make a curtain of plastic sheeting to drape over the doorway in order to prevent air-borne microbes from being able to exit the room.
Here is a more detailed guide to making a quarantine room.
4. Isolate Yourself
In the event of a biological attack, one of the most important keys to survival is to isolate yourself as much as possible. Many (though not all) biological weapons are designed to spread from person to person, meaning that the more people you put yourself in contact with the higher your chances of becoming infected.
Ideally, you will have everything you need to survive stockpiled in your home so that you are able to isolate yourself and your family from the outside world.
5. Avoid Drinking Tap Water
There are a number of ways in which a biological weapon could theoretically be administered, which is one of the many reasons why a biological attack is such a concerning threat. One of the most efficient ways to spread a man-made microbe throughout the US population is through the water supply.
So if you are concerned that the United States has been hit by a biological weapon, you will want to avoid drinking tap water unless it comes from your own private well.
Of course, if you have reason to be concerned that the US has been hit by a biological weapon then it’s likely already too late to worry about your water supply. Bioterrorists obviously won’t be able to infect the entire country’s water supply and would instead focus on the water supplies of a few highly populated areas to get the pandemic started.
Nevertheless, switching to bottled water in the event that a concerning disease pops up in the US is still a worthwhile precaution. Boiling your water is a worthwhile precaution as well, though it’s important to note that many manmade bioweapons may be able to survive boiling water.
6. Keep Pests at Bay
Contaminating the water supply is one way that bioterrorists could introduce a bioweapon into the US population. Releasing contaminated pests such as mosquitoes or rodents is another. Throughout history, some of the world’s most dangerous diseases have been spread via pests such as these.
In the event that a bioweapon is introduced to the US population via the release of contaminated pests, avoiding contact with these pests is your best bet for survival. Keep your trash empty and your home free of food debris in order to discourage rodents that may be infected from taking up residence in your home.
You’ll also want to empty out any standing water that might be near your home in order to help keep mosquitoes at bay. Of course, other measures such as bug spray and mosquito nets can also be used to lower the chances that you are bitten by an infected mosquito.
7. Sanitize as Much as Possible
Frequently washing every inch of surface area in your home with a sanitizing agent such as bleach or alcohol will go a long way toward reducing the likelihood that you or someone in your family comes in contact with a living microbe. By the same token, you will want to frequently wash your hands and your clothes as well.
Here is a list of hygiene supplies you should stockpile while you still can.
8. Survive Until a Vaccine can be Developed
The moment that a pandemic is discovered, you can rest assured that the best and brightest minds in the country will be working around the clock to develop a cure. While it’s not enough to place your trust in this fact alone, it is nice to know that help is on its way.
Any group such as ISIS with the motivation to attack the United States via a biological weapon likely won’t even be able to fathom the resources for preventing and mitigating such an attack that we have available.
In other words, any disease that they can develop is almost certainly a disease that we can cure given enough time. If you are able to lay low and avoid contamination, chances are you will live to see the release of a vaccine that puts an end to the pandemic.
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