Monday, January 20, 2014

Theory Based Scenario #3 - Flu Pandemic

Caution: While the likelihood of this event is statistically improbable, it might create a pause in thought.

As preppers, we try to image all kinds of things that can go wrong, and how to plan for them. Most people would consider this a negative mental exercise, but it doesn't affect my mental outlook or attitude, so I continue to make relationships and links between seemingly uncommon things or situations. Some of these scenarios can produce humorous outcomes, or provoke serious thought. While it is a never ending list, at least it's a way to pass the time while trying to keep the mind occupied.

Nature has a way of asserting power over her domain. Most population curves are exponential until it hits a correction. Starvation, disease, and/or predation are the three big players in the population decline of a species. While all three of these are viable candidates for the human correction, I'll primarily focus on the disease part of the equation.

The above graph gives a good example of the bubonic plague doing such a correction. Well, we have medicine, antibiotics, and advanced medical procedures. True, but remember that more and more strains of bacteria are becoming immune or resistant to antibiotics, and viruses are usually only treatable for their symptoms.  Antivirals? This type of viral vaccine is very specific a particular type of virus such as Hep C.

The yearly flu vaccine is a mathematical calculation of the most likely types of flu that will be widespread, thus an antiviral vaccine. The 2007-2008 flu vaccine was a flu cocktail miscalculation and only 44% effective. The yearly flu vaccine, typically a trivalent influenza vaccine, is generally a good preventative measure to get, but still struggles to get 40% of the US population vaccinated. Vaccine manufacturers now estimate 138-145 million doses of influenza vaccine will be produced for the U.S. market this season

A new mutation like the swine flu [H1N1], which is included in this year's flu shot by the way, caused the WHO to issue a worldwide pandemic alert in 2009. A mutation of flu virus that jumps species can quickly causes a lot of problems. The Spanish flu of 1918 killed between 20 to 40 million people. More people died from the Spanish flu in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death from 1347 to 1351.

There is already a National Strategy for Pandemic Flu which is a 233 page PDF.  Education and public service announcements will be the front line of defense against the spread of the flu. It warns of possible threats to critical infrastructure such as the movement of goods and containment or travel restrictions. 

How do you prepare? If in a pandemic event, you'll be seeing this poster. It recommends a two week supply of food and water for your family. I have learned during clinical experiences, that even a bus crash can easily overwhelm a hospital due to staffing policies. A major event would leave all of the area hospitals over-crowded and under-staffed.

Here is my sick list for my family, and we are still working on this list as well: Updated from comments, special thanks to 3 boxes of BS.
  1. A sick room.
  2. Kleenex (1 box per person/per day)  Aloe Vera or lotioned.
  3. Humidifier per room (lessens mucus viscosity)
  4. Masks and latex gloves
  5. Cough medicine (adult and children)
  6. Fever reducers (adult and children)
  7. Ability to wash hands
  8. Bottled water (hydration makes mucus less viscous) 
  9. Easy to prepare foods in case caregiver is sick (soups, broths, hot jello, clear liquids, easily another post)
  10. thermometer (covers if available to prevent transmission vectoring)
  11. contact numbers - family, doctor, neighbors
  12. Tamiflu
  13. Decongestants  ( Mucinex - DM) or other favorites
  14. Electrolyte solutions  - Gatorade/Pedialight
  15. trashcan for vomiting (with trash bags)
  16. disposable dishes and utensils for easy cleanup and limiting spread of virus
  17. Blood pressure cuff / stethoscope (listen to lungs)
  18. Rubbing Alcohol for sterilization
  19. Anti-diarrhea medications; Kaopectate, Pepto, to start; Lomidium for severe case
  20. Extra sheets and blankets for changing of linens (I prefer white for bleaching/sterilization)
  21. Bleach for laundry
  22. Lysol wipes for use in public

What other supplies might come in handy? The comment line is open and encouraged.

Keep Right On Prepping - K


  1. Interesting. The latest edition of Off Grid Magazine had a long article on pandemics. My thought is that if one starts breaking out, your only real hope is to stay at home and avoid people. I wouldn't go near a hospital on a bet.

    1. I'll have to run by the book store for a read. Hospitals will be over run and occupied by a lot of desperate people.

  2. The only problem I see is no matter how long you remain isolated eventually it's gonna get you.

    1. An antiviral vaccine would take at least a year with very heavy funding, just like the swine flu [H1N1]. I'd sure try to isolate my family as much as possible, and be almost OCD about washing our hands!

  3. Thermometer covers or multiple thermometers; avoids transmission vector.
    Rubbing alcohol for sterilization.
    Trash bags for the trash cans -- easier to dispose of contents.
    Anti-diarrhea medications; Kaopectate, Pepto, to start; Lomidium for severe cases.

    I would also stock more tissues -- one box per person per day minimum (think that is what you mean per day).
    Extra blankets, sheets, pillow cases -- will probably have to change sheets at least once or twice -- probably more often.
    Chlorine for sterilization of laundry.

    I would also take precautions in public -- masks, gloves, wipes to disinfect surfaces others may have touched. Someone will probably need/want to get out in public for supplies that were over looked. If nothing else, you might be able to see your primary care physician.

    I would also make sure everyone can operate any devices; generators, propane stoves, etc. Given a wide spread pandemic; the possibility of utility interruptions is high.

    Bob S.
    3 Boxes of BS

    1. You've mentioned some very good items to add to our sick list. Thanks.

    2. I don't know how I've missed it, but I've added you to my favorite blog roll.

  4. You could always use a good toilet paper in place of kleenex. Or handkerchiefs that could be washed and sterilized.
    Never heard of hot jello. I guess you could drink it.
    Don't forget Ramen or any type of quick fix noodles. We've been eating ramen since our Air Force TDY days.
    Personally, I think a lot of people are too overly cautious. Not talking about during an actual pandemic; but all the antiseptic everything everywhere keeps a lot of people from developing any antibodies against anything. My Mom told me I used to eat dirt when I was little. I remember eating grass and acorns, but I don't remember eating dirt. Can't see that happening now days.
    You make a lot of good points. The BIL just mentioned the Tamiflu the other day. I should look into that, and at least a few of the things you have listed here. Thanks, K!

    1. Cup of soup noodle would be an easy fix. I remember the last time I had the flu that microwaving a Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup wore me out.

      My mom would often fix us hot jello when we were sick. A good hot liquid on the sore throat was a welcome relief, and I'm sure the sugar helped too. Plus, it was low sodium, so it didn't further dehydrate us. Thanks for the comments.

  5. I definitely ate dirt as a child- in fact, my son ate some dirt today! I generally tell My Lovely Wife that it'll build strong bones and teeth. While I do have an old school thermometer around (somewhere) we have an instant read forehead thermometer that we got in the pediatric section, and it is fantastic. The only contact is with the hand and forehead, so very low chance of being contaminated, and easy to clean. Also, for dehydration- Gatorade comes in premeasured powder form, easy and compact to store (only in the major flavors, I believe) and pedialyte may as well, I've never looked. In a pinch, I put sugar and baking soda in water; if it tastes good, you are definitely dehydrated, so its a cure and a diagnosis in one.