Pandemic Preparedness

Posted: September 5, 2014 in 1st Aid and Medical Preparedness

What is a pandemic?  Simply a Pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread through human populations across a large region or the world.  A widespread Pandemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic.  Pandemics generally exclude recurrences of seasonal flu. Throughout history there have been a number of pandemics.  One of the more notable pandemics was the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919.  This pandemic affected approximately 1/3 of the world’s population and killed 50 million people worldwide.  The latest pandemic to affect the world was the Hong Kong flu 1968 – 1969.  The Hong Kong flu caused 34,000 deaths in the US alone.

World Airline Routes Daily

Today we are lucky enough to live in a world where diseases that were a death sentence 70 years ago are now just a minor inconvenience.  However, with our ever expanding populations and ease of travel between continents it is only a matter of time before the bug gets out of the bottle.  Once this occurs, both the ill prepared and those who fail to understand the hazard will pay the price.

Before the Pandemic

Before the pandemic there are several things we can do to prepare ourselves and our families.  First, you should be already be preparing by stockpiling your supplies.  Non-perishable foods, water and other food items should be maintained and refreshed as required.  Be sure to keep track of expiration dates and rotate stock as needed.  This includes water.

Some other items that you should be preparing are:

  • Prescribed drugs and medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment

  • Soap and water and alcohol-based hand wash

  • Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

  • Thermometer

  • Anti-diarrheal medication

  • Vitamins

  • Cough syrup & lozenges

  • Fluids with electrolytes, such as Gatorade® or Pedialyte®

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • Manual can opener

  • Garbage bags, Baggies

  • Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers

  • Disinfectant spray or wipes such as Clorox®

  • Surgical masks & N95 masks when taking care of someone ill

  • Batteries

  • Hand Crank Radio

Another often over looked issue is that the public utilities include telephone communications (landline and cell) may be down during the worst of the pandemic in your area.  You must develop a communications plan for both short range and long range communications.  I highly suggest that you obtain your Ham radio operators license and equipment.  If you have family out of the area I suggest that they also obtain their Ham radio operators license and equipment to maintain communications with you and your family.  Also, Ham radios will also work with in the local area.  Check with your local Ham operators club to obtain the frequencies that will be monitored by local officials during an emergency.  You may also want to invest is some limited range walkie-talkies that can be use by your family within the local area.  These will help ensure that your family will be able to maintain contact even during short runs.

During the Pandemic

After the American health care system discovers that the pandemic illness has made its way to the country several things will happen.  First, most of the American public will go through a short denial period until the national news agencies start reporting the numbers of ill and deaths that have occurred.  You may see a shortage of alcohol base hand sanitizers and other items that can be used to “kill germs”.  This will include everything from wipes to expensive canned aerosol sprays.  Only after the CDC issues a message that mentions the use of face mask will you see the general public in mass using a buying surgical mask.

At first, the government will tell us that social distancing will help ensure that we remain healthy and aid us in not contracting the bug.  As the disease progress through the population, schools, business and the government will not be able to maintain an effective level of operation because of the mass absences.  At first some of the absences will be cause of the disease, but most will be out of fear of contracting the disease.  This will be seen at especially high rate among those business who’s employees deal with the public on a daily bases.  As the pandemic wears on, the trend will shift and more and more employees will absent because of the disease.  This will continue until such time that the business can no longer sustain operations and the business will close.  The same can be said for the both the schools and government.

Those who rely on the use of public transportation will be slowly affected.  Much like the schools, business and other government agencies, the transportation systems will over the course of the pandemic will fall into disarray and slowly come to an end.  This will also include ambulances and fire responses.  With the amount of absences that will increase during the event, most if not all public services will decrease to a point of non-existence.  Those who are relying on these types of government services for sustainment will slowly come to the realization that their livelihood will cease.

Once the pandemic is in full swing, you will want to use several precautions when out in public.  One thing you can do is call social distancing.  Social Distancing are several techniques you can implement to help protect yourself.  These are just a few:

  • Avoid unnecessary travel.

  • Use a surgical mask (N-95) if you must go out in public.

  • Try to maintain at least 3-4 feet between you and other people at all times.

  • Avoid public transportation.

  • Work from home if possible.

  • Avoid using shared equipment whenever possible.

  • Don’t congregate in other areas where people socialize.

  • Minimize your time at work if possible.

Again, social distancing is a good idea and it can help; however it should not be the only layer of protection.  As mentioned above, the use of a surgical mask can also assist you in avoiding the flu.  Again social distancing and the use of a mask will help you if you have to brave a public setting during a pandemic.

At home, there are some things you can do to not only help to protect yourself and your family.  First, as you and your family come in from the outside world it’s a good idea to set-up a decontamination station near the entry of your house.  This station should include a disinfectant wash and a bag for clothing.  The disinfectant can either be store bought or home-made.  If home-made, use one gallon of water to one cup of bleach.  Using the disinfectant should be used on any exposed parts of the body, including your hair.  Don’t forget the rinse water.  Once you apply the disinfectant you want to wash it off before you bleach your hair and your skin.

You also want to maintain your hygiene at home.  It is very important for your family to try to be as clean as possible around the house.  Your goal is to try to have zero exposure in the house.  Ensure you disinfect your entry areas and other areas that may contain any exposure.

If you or someone in your family does have the unfortunate luck of contracting the disease, there are some measures that can be taken to limit the spread within your home.  If someone in your family does contract the disease isolate them from others in the house.  Try to keep them warm, dry and as clean as possible.  Again set-up a decontamination station near the entry to the room where they are being kept and use it each time you exit.  You will want to give the patient plenty of fluids and electrolytes to keep them hydrated.  Also you will want to try to manage the fever with acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin.  If you are the one providing care, always wear mask and decontaminate when existing the room.  Also, try to limit your exposure to the victim as well as your time.  This may be hard but is necessary to protect yourself and those in your family who are still healthy.

Another issue that may precede someone in your household contracting the disease is the unfortunate death of a love one.  If a death does occur within your household, there are steps you will want to take if the governmental systems have broken down.  First move the body outside of the home.  Place the body in a well ventilated secure storage area.  Keep everyone away from the body.  Next, clean the area from which the body was removed, use the disinfectant you have either bought or made.  Clean the entire room including all furniture, walls, floor and ceiling.  Open the windows and let the room air out for awhile.  Wash all the linens and other materials use the disinfectant and hot water.  Also, if you can let the material you have cleaned air dry outside.  I know this will be a tough time, however this is very necessary for you and your families protect.

At sometime during the event, the powers at be will develop a vaccine to combat the disease.  It will be your call to take it or not.  Some will tell you that it helps, while others will tell you that it will kill you.  As a good friend of mine use to say “You roll the dice and take your chances”.

There have been several pandemics that have swept around the world through history.  Some have nearly wiped mankind off the face of the earth, while others have sent the evolution of man back several decades. We will see more pandemics in our life times and some will live though the event.  However, it remains to be seen when and where the pandemic will begin.

  1. Very nice article, just what I was looking for.


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