A Pandemic Flu: What You Can Do Now to Prepare

This is a guest by Bam Bam

Two independent groups of scientists, one from the U.S. and another from the Netherlands, announced last week that they had created an airborne strain of H5N1. In this article I seek not to assess the morality of creating a Franken-flu, but on the question of what would happen if such a virus escaped. What can we do now to prepare?

Since this would be a novel influenza virus, humans would have no antibodies. That means infection rates would be exceedingly high. How high remains to be seen. If the new airborne strain retains its lethality rates, we can expect morality rates around 60 percent. These two facts alone (low resistance and high mortality rates) affirm that we would have a pandemic on our hands.

What would this look like? Well, for starters, hospitals would be overwhelmed as large numbers of people would likely seek medical attention. The problem is that at this point, there is no effective vaccine for H5N1. There is no cure for the flu. Anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu have been shown ineffective against H5N1.

Worker absenteeism would degrade essential services. Many workers will be too ill to show up. Others will stay home out of fear of contracting the disease. Hospitals will experience disruptions in the delivery of medical supplies. Other essential services, such as food, fuel, and police and fire services, will degrade quickly. We could expect electrical outages as lineman and other workers are unable or unwilling to report for work.

Life as we know it would stop. Children would be unable to go to school. Public gatherings would be scarce to nonexistent, as every outing would pose risk of infection. People could be seen walking in the street with masks on their faces. No one would want to get within three feet of anyone else.

Speaking of the 1918 pandemic, one historian writes:

The pandemic affected everyone. With one-quarter of the US and one-fifth of the world infected with the influenza, it was impossible to escape from the illness. Even President Woodrow Wilson suffered from the flu in early 1919 while negotiating the crucial treaty of Versailles to end the World War (Tice). Those who were lucky enough to avoid infection had to deal with the public health ordinances to restrain the spread of the disease. The public health departments distributed gauze masks to be worn in public. Stores could not hold sales, funerals were limited to 15 minutes. Some towns required a signed certificate to enter and railroads would not accept passengers without them. Those who ignored the flu ordinances had to pay steep fines enforced by extra officers (Deseret News). Bodies piled up as the massive deaths of the epidemic ensued. Besides the lack of health care workers and medical supplies, there was a shortage of coffins, morticians and gravediggers (Knox). The conditions in 1918 were not so far removed from the Black Death in the era of the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.

To put things into perspective, World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The Spanish Flu claimed 50 million.

There were three flu pandemics in the 20th century. The first, and by far the worst, was the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 which was caused by H1N1. What was so unusual about the Spanish Flu is that it killed healthy young people. The second was the Asian Flu in 1957. The Asian Flu was caused by H2N2 and killed two million people, mostly children and elderly. The third flu pandemic of the 20th century was the 1968 pandemic which surfaced in Hong Kong. This pandemic, mild by historical comparison, killed 33,800 people. It was cased by H3N2.

How long would such disruptions last? If history is any indication, flu pandemics come in waves several months apart with each wave lasting six to eight weeks. There is no way to predict how long such a pandemic would last.

What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Here are some reasonable steps you can take to protect your family. If you can think of other useful steps pack members can take, please add your comments below.

1. Food: Ensure that you have enough food to last at least eight weeks. Choose shelf stable foods such as rice, canned goods, dry goods, cereals and powdered milk. Make sure you have enough variety on hand so that you can actually fix meals. It is important to maintain a healthy diet.

2. Means of Cooking: If electricity is hit and miss, you will need some way to cook. I recommend a Coleman stove with extra fuel.

3. Hydration: Stock up on drinks and drink mixes. I especially recommend an electrolyte replacement drink such as Gatoraid. I like to keep a stash of EmergenC as well. Don’t forget to stock up on coffee and tea. If you are accustomed to caffeine in the morning, you won’t want to run out. Don’t forget to stock up on water as well. Lemonade and other mixes will help as well.

4. Medicine: You should have at least a two-month supply of prescription medications. I also recommend Tylenol or Advil as a fever reducer. Cough drops and other medications will help alleviate the symptoms of the flu. Don’t forget to stock up on vitamins.

5. First Aid Kit: Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand. The hospital is the last place you want to be during a pandemic. You might leave sicker than when you went in, or you might not leave at all. Be prepared to treat minor ailments at home.

6. Prevention: Soap and hand sanitizer help enormously, if you use them. Be mindful not to touch your face when you are out in public. Stock up on surgical masks and gloves. Depending on the severity of the pandemic, it may be necessary to wear a facemask and gloves while out in public. M.D. Adds: if possible it would be best to avoid being in public altogether…

7. Hygiene: In addition to soap and hand sanitizer, make sure you have enough hygiene supplies to last you at least two months. This includes toilet paper, feminine products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, lotion, chapstick, shavers, shaving soap, deodorant and the like.

8. Communications: If electricity does go out, you will want to have a backup radio. Hand-cranked or battery-powered radios are not expensive. You can also find flashlight-radio combinations that come with a hand crank to charge your cell phone.

9. Light: Expect electrical outages. With fewer workers, it will take longer to complete routine maintenance and repairs. Prepare for outages. Make sure you have an extra flashlight on hand and a couple of battery-powered lanterns. (Battery-powered lanterns are unlikely to burn your house down—an important consideration when the fire department is understaffed.) Don’t forget to stock up on extra batteries.

10. Entertainment: You may be shut in for a while. What on earth will you do all day? Electric and Internet service will help but cannot be counted upon. A couple of good books and some old-fashioned board games will go a long way in alleviating boredom. If you have children, you may want to plan some home schooling activities. It will be important to maintain some semblance of routine in the lives of children.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Hunker-Down says:


    Thanks again for another great article.

    I know every situation is different, but it would help somewhat in planning to know the average lead time it takes to develop a flu vaccine.

    • Hunker-Down,

      Here’s some information from the CDC. This doesn’t answer your question directly, but it does give you some relevant information.


      What is CDC’s Influenza Division’s role in vaccine selection?

      As one of five WHO Collaborating Centers, CDC’s Influenza Division receives and tests thousands of influenza viruses from around the world each year and collaborates with other WHO Collaborating Centers and National Influenza Centers in the yearly seasonal vaccine virus selection process for the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. CDC plays a major role in testing and identifying new variants of influenza viruses and identifying vaccine virus strains through their global surveillance activities. The Influenza Division provides this information to other directors of WHO Collaborating Centers and representatives of key national laboratories and participates in discussions regarding which strains will be recommended for inclusion in the flu vaccine. CDC also presents information to FDA’s advisory committee for their decision making and helps to identify vaccine viruses.

      What happens after a recommendation has been made about which viruses should be included in the seasonal flu vaccine?

      As soon as a recommendation has been issued about what viruses should be included in the vaccine, private sector manufacturers begin the process of producing vaccine. In fact, some manufacturers may start growing one or more virus strains for the vaccine even before a WHO or FDA decision is made based on what they think may be the recommended strains. This allows manufacturers more time to make vaccine for the fall; the more time a manufacturer has to make vaccine, the greater the number of doses that can be produced.
      How long does it take to manufacture seasonal influenza vaccine?

      It takes at least six months to produce large quantities of influenza vaccine. For vaccine to be delivered in time for vaccination to begin in October and November, manufacturers may begin to grow one or more of the virus strains in January based on their best guess as to what strains are most likely to be included in the vaccine.

      • Hunker-Down says:


        Here is a discussion of the 2009 search for a vaccine against the H1N1 virus. It covers the steps and problems in the development of a vaccine, and some of the time compression techniques used. It seems that on average 10 months is needed from point of discovery of a new virus to mass distribution of a vaccine (if were lucky).


        The assumption is that the WHO will be at full resource capacity the next time a new virus begins to kill people. With the actions of the Federal Reserve and ECB, I suspect the WHO will be severely disabled in the next several months and see its effectiveness parallel the purchasing power of the dollar and its new mate.

        Isolationism supported by duct tape (doors), contractor bags (window covering), rolled oats, elderberry syrup, water filters and a set of digital two way radios are now at the top of our prep list.

        • Hunker-Down says:

          In case anyone gets the idea that I suspect that the Federal Reserve is the root of all evil, you’re wrong. I KNOW it is. The FR can be defined and described in one word; Greed. The antithesis of charity.
          I wish Ron Paul weren’t such a dork on world policy; he has it right on fiscal policy. (The grouch is back, I’m getting over my cold).

          • templar knight says:

            Welcome back, Mr. Grouch. How about I send you a large bag of boiled peanuts? The latest research(by me) has proven that boiled peanuts prevent the flu(I eat boiled peanuts and haven’t had the flu, see how that works, LOL).

            Glad you’re feeling better HD, I missed the old grouch.

            • Hunker-Down says:


              That is so kind of you. I can use the juice from those boiled peanuts as a coating on the blacktop driveway. The smell will keep the crows and neighbors away. I would use the peanuts in my slingshot, but they would make it stink. LOL.

          • HD, I agree, if it wasn’t for his wanting to get rid of all military bases outside the US and a few other issues I would vote for him.

        • Hunker-Down,

          To get a vaccine out in 10 months is tantamount to a miracle. I don’t think it is possible at least with the methodologies and technologies we have now to isolate a virus and create a vaccine and mass produce the vaccine in 10 months–all cylinders had to click just right to get that wheel to turn.

          • Hunker-Down says:


            I agree, maximum project task overlap and no failures would be needed to make that time frame.
            So, for planning purposed (ha), if we estimate 20 months for a vaccine dose to get to our doctors office, and we estimate waves of the virus to recur every 4-6 weeks, we need to hunker down 16 times (20 x 4 / 5) for an average 5 weeks per session.
            Add in seasonality, say, hot weather, the above could be cut in half. That means only 8 waves of the virus traveling through our local area, each lasting from 4-6 weeks. Jumping over to the optimistic side, if the flu season lasts four or less months, only three waves will occur, but some flu has occurred ‘out of season’.

            This is pure conjecture, but at least is better than a blank sheet of paper. We will use it as our guess as to how much duck tape, food, and how many 5 gallon potty bags we will need and the size of the area in which to bury them.
            Of course, as the Pack fills up this hole I just dug, we will rejigger the numbers.

  2. SickSkilz says:

    Great post. I don’t think the point about avoiding public can be stressed enough. You can’t depend on grabbing supplies immediately after an outbreak occurs because highly populated supermarkets will be about the worst place to be. The other thing is that people in a bug out group or family will be coming from different locations. I plan to take a queue from the show “The Colony” and will plan to have a separate place for anyone not from my immediate family to stay for 2 days to make sure they have not contracted anything. (In the show they used a FEMA tent)

  3. templar knight says:

    Wow, Gayle, this is another excellent article, and one much more attuned to my personality. You gave me something to do, and I’m about to go to town and buy more vitamins, Sambucol, Tang, coffee, surgical masks and gloves, and some hand sanitizer. I can’t wait for the next part in your series. This is some good stuff, Gayle.

    And congrats on the Gators taking care of OSU. SEC Pride!

    • Dang. I was at Walmart today and intended to pick up some more face masks, but I forgot.

    • T.K.,

      The series only had two parts. Sorry, no Part 3 will be forthcoming–unless someone thinks up a good question.

      • templar knight says:

        I knew that, Gayle, but for some reason I was looking for a Part II header on this post. By the way, I went to town yesterday(very small town) and couldn’t find any Sambucol. Our one and only drug store was sold out. I found some online and ordered it, but I am also headed to a larger city today in an attempt to find some. Thanks to your article, I am in the process of making a dedicated flu responce kit that includes Sambucol, advil, N95 respirators, 2 gas masks w/filters, NBC suit, surgical masks, plastic/latex gloves, vitamins, hand sanitizer, kleenex and bleach. If anyone can think of anything else, let me know. I have a medium, heavy-duty plastic tote dedicated to this purpose.

        • T.K.,

          Emergen-C is good to stock as well and some Tylenol. I need to pick up some Sambucol and some more N95 respirators. I always stock at leave 5 gallons of bleach. You might consider stocking some hand lotion–and sanitizer and extra hand washing tend to dry out my hands.

          I would be interested to hear if anyone else can think up items we need to stock in preparation for flu season.

        • If you cannot find Sambucol at your local Walgreen’s make sure to check at the health food store when you go into the city.

  4. button crazy says:

    With reading this blog and others. I now keep at least 3 months supply of prescription meds. and first aid kit and over the counter meds. We have enough food to last up to at least 6 months may be more if rationed. We live in a small town of less than 1,300. Gayle this is a great post. Makes everyone think about what could happen. I am glad Gayle that you have time and knowledge to do the research on these types of things. I hope that we never see a flu pandemic, but I am afraid that we will see one.

    • button crazy,

      I think that’s smart. I would have suggested that everyone have at least three months worth of food and medications but I didn’t want to scare off any of the new folks.

      I am going to put my mind to the question of what I would do if my family became shut-ins. In a major epidemic, I would be asked to work from home. I already work from home most of the time anyway.

      But how on earth would I occupy myself if I were a shut-in? I really think these are important questions to ask.

      • I have a PS2 and didn’t sell off my collection of games since they had worthless trade-in value by the time I paid $20 or less for the bulk of them. (Hubby has an Xbox with one or two games, and I think I have 3 games for the cube.) I really need to make sure I have a copy of Ancient Domains of Mystery; it runs under DOS and I’ve never beaten it.

        As for powerless options, one of my hobbies is to collect board games. Hubby may not like backgammon, but I imagine he’d eventually make me into a decent chess player given the time. (Still need to brand the rummicub set so that it can easily be played by candlelight.)

        We also raided my parents’ paperback bookcase last time we passed through her home. (I am well aware that we are spreading the problem of barely-macroscopic book scorpions. They are only annoying red dots that distract reading, but they eat smaller pests that actually eat the books.) Last time the maintenance crew was in the library, they were shocked at how robust our entire book collection was, and we consider it minimal.

  5. If the flu starts to go around – the most active time for it will be when the outside temperature is around 40-41F degrees. At this point people under dress and end up cold or over dress and end up with a cold sweat cold.

    Dress properly in layers…

    • Gayle
      I was wondering something similarly… Historically is there a time/month when outbreaks are more likely to occur? I’m guessing along the lines with Michael C: the transitional temperatures in late fall and early spring? A big thanks for your efforts!

      • Nessie,

        Here’s some info from flu.gov.


        Annual outbreaks of the seasonal flu usually occur during the late fall through early spring. Most people have natural immunity, and a seasonal flu vaccine is available. In a typical year, approximately 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu. Flu-related deaths range from 3,300 to 48,600 (average 23,600).

        • templar knight says:

          Gayle, this is the info I was looking for in the other post. If 5% of people caught the avian flu, and 60% died, then 3% of the entire population would be gone. If the higher percentage applied, and 20% got the flu and the 60% mortality rate held, then 12% of the population would be killed in the first round. That would be approximately 9-36 million deaths in the US alone from the first round of the flu pandemic. I can’t even put my mind around figures such as these. We would have a disaster of Biblical proportions.

          • T.K.,

            The only way to determine that someone has been exposed to the virus without getting sick is to test for antibodies specific to H5N1. At this point, there is not a large enough sample population to test in order to get reliable results. We don’t know how many people who are exposed to the virus would actually get the flu.

            I read a virology blog today and the central argument is that H5N1 fears are overblown because we don’t have an accurate sample population. The only folks who are counted as having H5N1 are those who get ill enough to go to the doctors. And that skews the results making the virus appear more lethal than it really is.

            Here’s the link to the blog.


        • Keep in mind that late fall to early spring is essentially the time when children are headed back to school, being exposed to, and bringing home god knows what. I don’t think it is temperature related as much as one might think. We also don’t get influenza from being chilled, only from receiving the virus, although humans often try to see patterns that don’t really exist. Logically this is called “Post hoc, Ergo proctor hoc” or “After the fact, therefore before the fact”, meaning that when something happens we try to look back to see what caused it, and are quite often wrong.

    • Michael C. writes, “the most active time for it will be when the outside temperature is around 40-41F degrees.”

      Does anyone know the temperature that fresh veggies and fruits are kept at in the grocery store? I wonder how likely it would be for the flu virus to survive on some apples that someone with the flu touched? Most of us grab and apple, rinse it off and eat it. We don’t “wash” our produce before we eat it.

  6. CountryGirl says:

    Good post, your advice was good and you avoided the wishful thinking that there is some magic to protect us (herbs, washing hands, etc.). The simple fact is the very same thing that makes an illness “pandemic” also makes it virtually impossible to avoid. Two points: 1.Your age and health may well determine if you will live or die. 2.If someone close to you becomes ill the care you give them can save them. Most people who die from common transmittable diseases die from the complications and not from the disease itself. Keeping them comfortable and making sure they get fluids and food can save their life. Even common over the counter medicines can alleviate symptoms enough that the person can better contribute to their treatment. Sitting up and clearing their lungs can prevent that spiral into pneumonia. If your family is faced with serious illness like the flu you can save their lives. It isn’t always easy especially if you are also ill but it works.

  7. well , if a government felt that they needed to thin population down . One way to do it without getting caught would be to ” introduce ” a plague of some kind . Either in their own country or somebody else’s . Also , with the human genome unraveled , its theoretically possible to engineer a person or group specific desease right now . Somebody just gets sick and dies ………..and nobody gets the blame . Just sayin

    • Pineslayer says:

      T.R. you hit on something that I think about all the time. Bottom line is that there are too many of us, we all know this. As the population increases, resources dwindle, wars break out between countries, and of course civil wars. Will the next pandemic be man-made or natural? Either way, I know this sounds bad but, something needs to happen. How do we reduce the human population quickly enough to save the ecosystems that we depend on to survive as a species? Birth control measures won’t do it quick enough, wars aren’t doing it. This is a sickening subject, but is sooner better, and get to the rebuilding and try for a change to learn from our mistakes and build a better future for our offspring. What starts as a horrible time could be all that saves us, just sayin’.

      • SickSkilz says:

        Wow, now I don’t feel so bad. I have been thinking that not only MAY this happen but that I hope it does. The world can’t sustain the current population let alone its current rate of growth. The endlessfighting over ever limited resources will only get worse. Honestly a global pandemic killing even 95% of the worlds population might be an easier pill to swallow than constant progressively worse fighting. …when God said “be fruitful and multiply”, maybe he didn’t really mean indefinitely until all the resources of the earth were sucked dry.

      • At the risk of sounding like the last person on the planet who doesn’t “know”, I’ve just got two questions: what gives “us” any right to reduce the human population, and just who the h-e-double-toothpicks are “we”?

        • Pineslayer says:

          So what number would start scaring you? 7 billion scares the crap out of me, 9, 10 billion, yikes. Maybe the word “we” isn’t the right word. At some point humans need to have a discussion about this before it is too late, or we can ignore the 8,000lb gorilla in the room.

        • Well governments think like criminal do ……. which is no consideration what so ever . This is where people get confused when it comes to politics , the people are the country – not the government . They are two separate things and most of the time in no way reflect what the actual people think or represent . Pineslayer , one of the problems also is the disposable world mentality . Nobody makes anything to last , everybody acts like we can just toss it away and get the latest piece of crap and it will be like that forever ………WRONG ! technology is one of the worst offenders . Look at a car made in the 1950s vs a new piece of junk . A ’53 fleetwood had a bumper and thick enough steel that it would take out a new truck and keep going . Some things made at the turn of the century are still in use . Our money was backed by something REAL , and we pretty much shunned other countries . We made what we needed here . All animals ( including people ) have a natural life span , science increasing that over what is natural is a bad idea , however well intended . Germ warfare is a reality and a possible ” tool ” for those in power . I agree , something has to break .

    • Thomas The Tinker says:

      For the sake of the Disscusion: Can you begin to grasp the number….. of deaths it would take to reduce our population to say….. 1980 levels? ?,OOO,OOO,OOO…………? Ok…. to many to deal with….. how bout 2000 levels? ???,OOO,OOO……..? Perhaps I am getting off point…. going glass half empty…..

      • Pineslayer says:

        Brutal topic gang. I guess I’m torn, reduction needs to happen and there is no painless way to that end. WTSHTF all of us will lose family and friends. I hate losing and will do what I can to see that my family lives on, no surprise there. Like probably everyone else in the Pack, we have multiple plans to deal with “Alien Zombie Looters”, but you know what they say about, ” the best laid plans”. Anyone out there have any non-brutal ideas on how to reverse course before impact?

        One more question since Skilz played the Bible card, why do my Christian friends get so angry when I bring up the population subject?

        • SickSkilz says:

          Sorry for adding that to the mix… I would say that it depends on how literally you take the Bible. Personally I take it as mostly what the people at the time needed to hear. There are things in the Bible that imply that the world is flat. People then could not have handled the truth. Honestly, I also have a hard time understanding when people take things 100% literally, specifically that one.

        • Pineslayer,

          I suspect it is because God knew you in the womb before you were born–all life is precious. We are suppose to love our neighbors, not wait for a pandemic to kill them. It is the wrong attitude to take towards God’s creation. Talk of population control make it seem as though human life is something that we can/ought to control. Perhaps such talk brings to mind the Nazi’s attempt at population control.

          I am speculating here. Personally, I think the Earth will set its own controls. For instance, if shipments of grain stopped flowing into Africa, millions would die. Millions are already dying. But millions more would die. Overpopulation breeds disease. It strikes me as sad, but true that the population of the earth will return to equilibrium.

          • Keep in mind that much of the food crisis in Africa is self inflicted by politics. Ethiopia used to be a net grain exporter, but internal factions used food to starve out the opposition. There is no good reason why Israel and her neighbors can’t get along, except for ancient hatreds. We don’t need mass genocides to thin out the population, because over time we will have lots of smaller ones. Additionally, things like natural climate change will eventually do its work as it did to central Africa and even the North American dust bowl from early last century. There are plenty of factors in the world to help things eventually self limit.

          • Lets not forget Mother Nature , she may toss out a wild card at any time . The planet may try to rid itself of most of its surface parasites with a good volcano going off , or a major plate shift , or rotational wobble , etc . ………. of that , nobody has any controle over .

        • templar knight says:

          Who are you to say reduction needs to happen? As for your Christians friends getting angry when you call for genocide, I just can’t for the life of me think why.

          • Pineslayer says:

            Genocide? Never mind.

            • templar knight says:

              What would you call it? What mechanism would you use for population control, much less population reduction? Deny care to older people? Forced abortion? I’m just throwing things out there. Tell us what you propose, and maybe I won’t jump to conclusions. But the vast majority of those who call for population controls have only one source of power to enforce it, and that is totalitarian government.

      • well take a look at what ( not if ) is going to happen to California . When that plate drops , its going to be sudden , there will be literally millions of floaters washing up in Yuma Arizona . thats just one disaster ………. we will have no choice but to deal with it …….and we will .

      • The world population would be reduced by 99.99996% if the bible “target” for living (144000) people were hit.

        • Think of world population as dropping ants into a jar , the more ants you put in the jar , the more angry and agitated they become , stinging and biting each other . All pretense of civility and morality goes out the window . The jar is filling up and the slightest shake is going to set them off .

  8. I’m going to let my ignorance show and ask: How does the flu kill you?

    I know there are several different types of snake venom; one type paralyses you and you’re fine if you can get on life support on-time, others digest tissue or just cause it to die.

    I think AIDS doesn’t kill you, but rather destroys your immune system so that anything else can kill you. Cancer takes up resources until your body can’t function…. I have no idea about more common diseases unless they obviously shut down the lungs.

    • Kelekona,

      That’s a good question and I don’t have a good answer. Now you’ve got my curiosity up. I will do some research and get back to you. I do know that the people who die of H5N1 die of organ failure.

      • templar knight says:

        Most flu kills by respiratory failure. Dehydration is another possible cause of death. I have also heard that cytokine reactions, commonly referred to as a cytokine storm, can also kill you. This is an overreaction of the immune system to some viruses. I’m sure there are other ways as well.

        • templar knight says:

          Should have read further down, and would have seen the answer already posted. Sorry, folks.

  9. Chonte' in MD says:

    Thanks again Gayle. i actually recently just noticed that except for my hand crank i don’t own another flashlight. the power rarely goes out where i live, (most of the power lines are underground) as apposed to the other side of my town which looses it often. we got my little one a cute unicorn shaped flash light for Christmas (she’s 2) and i just ordered a set of 3 battery powered lanterns from amazon for $10 in addition to a pack of 48 double AA’s.

    • Has anyone heard from Lint today? Chonte’s’ (how do you write the possessive form of your name?) comment about the flashlight made me realize Lint hasn’t commented. I hope he is feeling okay.

      • templar knight says:

        Gayle, haven’t heard from Lint in a couple of days, nor Lynn in the past week. There are several regulars we are missing, and they have missed so much the past few days. I hope they are just lurking, and don’t feel like commenting. Frankly, I’m worried about Lint since he got hurt last week.

        • Templar Knight,

          How did he get hurt? Do you know what happened?

          • templar knight says:

            If I remember correctly, he slipped on the wet floor in a supermarket. He hurt his ankle, but what concerned me was that he was complaining of pain in his side or something, I can’t quite remember. I went through several of the threads trying to find where he first mentioned it, but time is my enemy and I’ve got to go. If someone knows, please post. Thanks.

            • Lint fell and hurt his ankle. As I recall, he said it was swollen.

              It’s just not the same without Lint’s humor.

            • Hunker-Down says:


              He said he hurt his shoulder and knee and badly sprained his ankle. I’m worried because he just had his gallbladder removed a few weeks ago. Some one suggested that he get aspirin (or something) for the pain and LP responded that he was unable to leave the house. I posted a suggestion to LP on this blog that he call a local pharmacy and ask if they had a delivery service. No answer from LP.

              This morning I asked M.D. if he knew anything. He said he sent LP an email and did not get a response.

          • Hey MD
            Where is the little pdf maker button.
            I can make a pdf of anything else on that
            show screen. And I did it sure was easier when
            you had the little button..

          • M.D. & T.K.,

            Here’s what Lint wrote Dec. 30.

            “I was in a store yesterday, slipped on the wet floor, and sprained my shoulder, wrist, knee, and especially my ankle – all right side. So, I was unable to get up off the floor without help. Although the pain was great (still is), the embarassment was mortifying. I guess I’ll have to turn in my manly black flashlight and get a pink one after all.”

          • M.D., since he hasn’t been on, I’m sure many in the pack would agree if you could send him an email we are praying for him.

      • Gayle, he posted the other day, he said he got hurt, will try to look up and see how he got hurt. Don’t know the extent.

        I got a promotion at work and had only 3 days off since late November so I have been trying to catch up and haven’t been getting the newest topics sent to my email, wondering if I’m the only one.

        • Jarhead,

          Lint posted Dec. 30 that he fell and hurt the left side of his body, his shoulder and ankle. He hasn’t been on in a few days.

          • Chonte' in MD says:

            Hopefully Lint is just taking some down time and getting some rest.
            Gayle, i’m honestly not quite sure. officially the accent in my name is an acute accent, so it goes directly above the “E” but i don’t know how to do that on my keyboard :/

  10. College Prepper says:

    So, two things: one, dilute your Gatorade. It has too many electrolytes in it, which results in water loss. However, when you dilute it with water it works better. Of course, another (cheaper) method is to mix sugar and salt with water, which gives the same effect.

    The second thing, in response to Kelekona’s question: based on what I can glean from Wikipedia, while all flus cause tissue damage, that isn’t usually what kills a person. Rather, it is what is called a “cytokine storm,” which is actually a person’s own immune system overreacting. That is what is believed to have killed a large number of people during the Spanish Flu pandemic, and most of the deaths due to H5N1 are caused by that.


    • Okay, so science isn’t there yet. It’s either find a way to regulate the immune system, (maybe a curable form of HIV?) or develop artificial replacement for pus-filled lungs and all other systems that are compromised by over-active immune systems…. Scary stuff, I may put more effort into getting the normal flu vaccine next year.

    • College Prepper,

      You are right about the Spanish Flu and cytokine storm. The Spanish Flu killed healthy young people. Soldiers in the trenches from WWI lived in squalor and barely had enough food to keep alive. The soldiers survived at better rates than comparably aged young adults back home because the folks back home were healthier.

      I cannot quite wrap my mind around this.

      • Hunker-Down says:

        Doesn’t that mean that the troops and others in similar health were to weak to generate a cytokine storm?

        • Yes, that’s why they survived at a higher rate. This seems to suggest that the healthier one is the less likely it is that one will survive the flu (or at least the strain that caused the Spanish Flu).

          I am having a hard time fitting this into my conceptual scheme.

    • College Prepper, you are right about diluting Gatorade. The docs always told us to dilute it 50/50 when training heavily, hot weather with all of our gear on and when sick to make better use of the electrolytes allowing the body to process it. Any overload of the electrolytes will just pass through the body unused and the overload of salt will just make you more thirsty.

      • And if you overload the electrolyte you will be in danger as well. Symptoms of too much electrolyte are the same as too little. Guess how medical people will respond? Thats right, they will pump you full of electrolytes.

    • There is a new electrolyte replacement product out , its called NUUN tablets . Its like Alka Seltzer , you drop a tab into water and it fizzes up , the thing I like about it is that its barely flavored . It has no sweetness at all . Gatorade is like cool aid , disgusting sweet and actually makes me more thirsty . This stuff is great for a backpack or the gym . It replaces salts as well , good product .

  11. Start taking echinacea and golden seal as soon as you know the flu is going around.it will help build up your immunity.Beef up on vitamin c.When we get the flu in our house I make a tea,mixing dream time tea,throat coat tea and about a tablespoon of chopped onion.It seems to shorten the duration of the flu.Onion is a natural anti viral,so maby thats why. I hope this helps.

    • Connie, I like your idea of mixing the two teas together. But instead of the chopped onion, I like to press a fresh raw garlic clove daily into my hot soup or on a serving of cooked vegetables during flu season. Also, my herb doctor recommended lots of raw onion, yellow onion being the best, but I like slicing it and stacking the onion on sandwiches. Yum!
      No one has mentioned Turmeric. Turmeric has wonderful antioxidant properties and can be easily mixed with food or taken in capsule form. Both my husband and I have been taking turmeric in capsule form for three years now, mostly to treat joint pain but we haven’t been sick with even a cold during that time.

      • Marebear, I use turmeric for managing my cholesterol along with cinnamon and when cooking red meats or pork on those rare occasions and put it in my soups and omelets.

        Garlic and onions helps, I keep plenty of onion and garlic powder and grow garlic at home.

        • Jarhead 03, I would like to grow my own garlic as well, later after our move. Garlic has such a long growing season that it would tie up my limited garden space here at this home. But, I don’t like the fact that most garlic being sold in the grocery stores is from Mexico, or worse, China. What happened to all the garlic grown in CA?

          • Also, for future needs, those who may be so inclined to want to make Elderberry Tincture, the directions can be found with an internet search. All you need is Elderberries, either fresh or dried, and 100 proof Vodka.

  12. JeffintheWest says:

    Frankly, this (a pandemic, either natural or man-made) and an EMP event (either from some rogue country or a “once in a billion” solar flare) are the two things I think are most likely to bring on TEOTWAWKI. Thanks for another fantastic article on the issues we need to be thinking about.

    • JeffintheWest,
      EMP like events from a Solar CME are very unlikely, primarily because we have satellites like SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) which will give us typically 10 or more hours notification of large CME events, and give us time to shut down the grid and otherwise batten down the hatches.

      • Even if we can see CME’s – we won’t shut down the grid, and leave all the rich people without power!

        CME events are getting more likely this year.

        • I know folks in the power industry and there are contingency plans to shut down the grid and put protections in place if a large enough CME warrants it. Blaming this on rich people is ludicrous. Deciding to not shut down the grid to allow rich people (and for that matter, the rest of us) to continue to have power, would only accomplish all of us having power for one more day, until the major infrastructure of the grid is destroyed by the event. At that point, all of us, including the rich people will have no power for weeks, two months, to possibly even years. Your attitude is at best, self defeating.

          • O.P.,

            You are right–the first order of business will be to protect the grid so they can get it up and running after such an event. My best friend’s dh is an electrician and I learned that electric companies have procedures to follow in terms of shutting down and restoring power–hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores are always among the first to have power restored. These folks have excellent plans in place.

        • Michael, I work for a major transportation system on the west coast and can tell you that yes they will.
          If there is any certainty it will hit the earth, they will be shutting down in the event the NG, LE and active military needs to be moved as well as the public if directed.

          If a large solar flares is likely and an alert goes out, one of my vehicles will parked 4 levels underground at work as well as access to work vehicles. Oh, and my bicycle lol, its over 20 miles between work and home.

  13. Chonte' in MD says:

    so i have read about getting antibiotics from pet supply stores/websites. does anyone know how these would be used on people? dosage? how long? just curious, i was thinking about ordering some , then realized i have NO idea how to use them

    • Chonte’,

      You can log onto amazon.com and search for “fish antibiotics”. That will bring up pharmaceutical grade antibiotics–the exact same medications we get at the pharmacy. If your doctor typically writes you a script for 500 mg of amoxicillin, then take the 500 mg of fishmox.

    • I think that Gayle mentioned that anti-biotics DO NOT WORK for a virus.

  14. If I take into consideration all that is influencing our prepping and rolled it up in a ball just about anyone of them is going to put us in a tailspin.
    I find it remarkable that this virus has been allowed to be made. So that splits my concern two ways. They either made it to make sure they could make a vaccine (which makes them nice) or they conjured it up to cause harm (which makes them bad).
    If indeed it is lying dormant and it will be no telling when it arises out of the dust then I think it will be out of their hands totally.
    And I do not think they (the powers that be) gives a rip about the common herd. The only reason they would even try to control it is to keep it from reaching out and hugging them.
    As it stands now they (the pill jockies) can’t keep up with the antibiotics and regular meds. Heard the other day that tetracycline was now behind in manufacturing. Now ain’t that a gas.
    So my goodie/baddie meter is registering on the baddie side.

  15. Thank you Gayle! Another well written post with important information that we all need to consider and then act upon. I will be adding to my supply of masks, gloves, etc… first thing tomorrow morning.

  16. Gayle, thank you for all your effort on this series. The information is most helpful, and your concise presentation keeps our focus on what we can do to improve our readiness for this possibility.

  17. SrvivlSally says:

    I am more worried about schools these days not giving a hoot about children having lice. Those little blood suckers spread disease and they are allowing the children, thus their parents, to give them to everyone they come into contact with. The bible has foretold that plague and pestilence is coming and it is only a matter of time before it becomes full blown. Whether or not that will include H5N1 is anyone’s guess. Makes me that there is http://www.cdc.gov (the Centers for Disease Control) site to visit. With all of the disease-ridden zombie sheeple that will be drooling all over everything and trying to push their way inside our homes to drool on everything in them as well, why not make a run for the hills before the streets are flooded with their drool and it is too thick and sticky to get through, even for motor boats. I wonder if anyone knows of a good commercial brand of drool cutter for when it becomes thick and sticky.

  18. I’m making a special folder for Flu/Pabdemic Prevention. Thanks for the info and comments.

  19. After reading twice, I must admit this is one of the most well written submissions in a while.. I am looking forward to part 2 and am brushing up on my reading to learn to deal with this threat. Thanks Gayle !

  20. M.D.,

    Thank you for the book recommendations. I was able to get both used for less than $15.

  21. I have two items for this…

    1) Is a reduction in the world population a bad thing? Losing friends and loved ones hurts, so this topic is moot; but when you look at it from a pure world wide view….. IMHO, developing nations with poor hygene will be the hardest hit in any pan/epidemic

    2) I spent nine months living in the deep desert while taking a all expense paid tour of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq provided for by the U.S. Government. 5-5 Cav Mech Infantry consisted of around 1,200 men aged 18 to mid-50s. Due to obvious reasons we had little contact with anyone outside of our traveling group but there were supply trucks and enemy POW along the way. Not one person came down with an illness. The chain of command was adment about personal hygene. Hand washing and brushing your teeth were the top of that list. Our idea of a showere was a canteen cup and some water. By the end of the trip were were all a bit fragrent but like I said there was not one illness. My take is that a reasonable sized community could operate relativly normally with a hightened sense of hygene and awareness; assuming the contagin is not some bizare abaration like the 1918 Spanish Flu.

    • Bryce⁠, you hit the nail on the head. I never got sick while deployed but when home visiting and I had been to some hell holes with a serious lack of hygiene, running water and waste management. Yet when I came home I would catch colds, flu etc.

      A canteen bath with a wash cloth was the norm, when the water is shut off at home I take two 16oz bottles of water and I can easily wash up.

  22. I’m afraid to sneeze or cough after reading this.

  23. Gayle – great article! When you say you recommend the coleman stove, is it the one with 2 burners, or does it have a grill?

    • Donna,

      I have the Coleman stove with 2 burners. But shop around. There are different models. I got the 2 burner model because I want to be able to make coffee and fix breakfast at the same time.

    • Donna, the coleman stove is made better than others. I have a 2 grill stove from Coleman and the walmart brand as well as 2 coleman stoves with a single grill one for hiking and the other for campground or house if needed.

    • Pineslayer says:

      Another great back-up stove is the Trangia alcohol burner. It burns denatured alcohol, which can be bought in any hardware store. No moving parts, small and highly portable for the BOB’s too. I own Coleman’s too, propane and white gas, they are bombproof, but for $25 you can get the Trangia’s on eBay or Amazon, with a windscreen/potstand (I recommend the Westwind stand). I have bought these for all the family and am thinking about turning these into my go to gift for holidays. Redundancy is good.

  24. This is one aspect of survival that hits home with me. I run a (licensed) home daycare and take care of up to 6 children daily. I have a pretty solid immune system after years of watching kids, so I rarely get colds or the flu, but they do run their course through the kids sometimes. I often think, the kids could get something that just looks like the typical “bug” and by the time we realize how bad it is everyone in my house could be infected. But then, everyone comes in contact with people, so my exposure shouldn’t be higher than most others. Still, I keep it in mind and watch for it. I suppose health care workers have an even higher risk.

  25. Gayle et al,
    I found another article that is significant with regard to public policy on bird flu threats and other bioterrorism issues.


    Some very important points (paraphrasing)
    1) Biologists can construct viruses using their basic elements
    2) The technowlogy is enhancing to the point that research that used to take decades takes days.
    3) It is basically impossible to regulate such research because it could be done in a high school chemistry lab.

    So basically the publishing of how to make aerial H5N1 could only be the tip of the iceberg. Its concievable that a rogue scientist could create a dozen pandemic-strength viruses and release them simultaneously.

    As I am a computer nerd, I can’t avoind the analogy to computer viruses. Even the best antivirus software is only as good as its virus definitions which are iherantly reactionary. When there is a new virus or new strain, it always takes time to react to that strain. I could imagine that it would be virtually impossible to react in time to a large scale terrorist introduction of viruses.

    • Sick Skilz,

      This is an interesting article. I am inclined to think that the two biggest threats to the world are bioterrorism and a naturally occurring pandemic. I am surprised that biohazards didn’t land in the wrong hands after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The U.S. and Russia are believed to have the last two samples of Small Pox. (Weather related events tend to be local. Bioterrorism and/or a pandemic would have global implications.)

  26. Gayle, thank you for another great article.
    Just an FYI, and everyone can take this however they want, but my kids pediatrician has told me to avoid giving out fever reducers while they have a cold or flu, unless the fever spikes really high. Also kids run a higher temperature than adults do. I dont remember the exact numbers, but talk to your doctor(s) and see what they have to say a “safe” temp is for a fever at different age ranges. That way you give your body a chance to do what it is suppose to do with out letting it go into overdrive.

    • Oh and one more thing, different means of taking your temperature will give you a different results. Such as under the arm, under the tongue or rectal. That is something else to talk to your doctor about, as what is high in one spot isnt high in another.

    • TG,

      Fever is the body’s natural means of dealing with infection. Some doctors today say let the body heal itself. They think fever reducers should be used only for a severe fever.

  27. I just read Google uses search terms to predict Flu waves. Governments or organizations can use this data to prepare for an upcoming outbreak prior their own tracking devices. Scientists say it might not be as reliable but during the swine flu outbreak both predictions have proven to be right.
    It works on the fact that probably ill people search for certain keywords such as headache, feaver etc.

  28. LOL I love opening up a can of worms 😉

  29. Copperhead says:

    Excellent articles, Gayle! I just finished an evening of reading both and their comments…gives one much to think about. AND prepare for.
    IF one of our family does get sick, try to have plenty of sheets, towels, wash cloths etc and a few extra buckets/pans to soak clothes or bedding in and also to have by the bedside for sick tummies.

    Thank you, Gayle.

  30. Chuck Pelto says:

    TO: All
    RE: Gayle’s Article

    Pretty darn good for a broad-brush approach.

    RE: Medical Matters 1 — Prescription Drug Stocks

    It’s hard to get 2 months supply of prescription meds, as I understand it. But do it if you can.

    RE: Medical Matters 2 — Don’t Go There!

    If the hospitals and doctors offices are chock full of people coughing up a lung and 60% of them are likely to die, you don’t want to go to any such place if you’re not dying yourself.

    Therefore, being proficient at first aid is a high priority. That includes having the materials necessary to do such things as splinting fractures, bad burns, severe strains, cold/heat injuries, other ailments, etc.

    RE: Medical Matters 3 — Homeopathy

    Yeah. I know. People claim it’s worthless. But I’ve been practicing it for nigh on 25 years now and I’ve found otherwise. I use it frequently for treating bad burns (up to 2d degree) I sustain while cooking. [NOTE: Now and then I make the stupid mistake of making a bar-hand grab at a stainless steel skillet just out of the broiler.] I take cantharis and in 15 minutes the pain is gone.

    Considering that there are no known cures for viral infections amongst the allopaths, i.e., our valient friends in the AMA, it’s interesting to note that if I can properly identify the symptoms and have the proper materia medica on hand, I can put a cold or flu down in 15 minutes. If I don’t have the proper materia on hand or can’t properly identify the symptoms, I can usually mitigate the gross/acute symptoms significantly.

    So, you don’t have much to lose by looking into homeopathic techniques. And it just might save your life.

    I recommend two books as references:

    [1] Homeopathic Medicine at Home by Dr Jane Panos, MD. It’s an excellent general reference and our first used in most instances.

    [2] Boericke’s Materia Medica
    . This is a tome.


    [Chance favors the prepared mind. — Louis Pasteur, Father of Modern Microbiology]

  31. Chuck Pelto says:

    TO: All
    RE: Another Concern

    Be prepared for a breakdown in law and order.

    If the situation gets bad enough, don’t expect the police to come to your rescue anytime soon, should you have a home invasion by one of the have-nots who want what you have.

    Showing that you have light—candles, lanterns, whathave—in your house, when everyone around you hasn’t had such for several weeks is an invitation.

    Have weapons on your person and be prepared to use them.

    RE: On the Dark Side

    I sat in on a local discussion of preparation for Avian Flu Pandemic several years ago. During a break-out session, i.e., a small group discussion, I was appalled to hear a police rep. Not a patrolman, but one of their planners say words to the effect that, they were going to hole-up in the state fair grounds and defend themselves and their families. I PRESUME that fellow meant if EVERYTHING went to Hell-In-A-Handbasket,i.e., 50% infection rate, 60% mortality rate.

    I had been recording the session on my iPod, but someone saw it and reported me, and I was required to erase the recording.


    [Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a “.4” — Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting]

  32. I’m a RN, last year at work we stressed about having a patient (hypothetically) code with the Flu. Found out that we’ re screwed, N-95 masks do not filter out viral particles. So stay away from hospitals in a major flu epidemic.
    My parents and grandparent survived the 1918 flu epidemic, my grandfather closed the gates and No one came in. But that was in the days of self sufficiency on farms.
    I am not sure what I’ll do, work or stay home. I have my own health issues. And a dead nurse isn’t any good to any one.

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