What Will it Take to Survive the Coming Pandemic

Knowing when to bug in is the key to survival…

by Moira M –  – this is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

public domain image

This past winter, the flu epidemic in Central Tennessee made the news across the country. I got phone calls from family in Florida about how we were doing. Our local school system closed for several days. The truth is that we avoided the flu this year. Everyone that we knew who did get the flu was able to get Tamiflu and got well after a week or so. It was more of an inconvenience than an emergency. But it did give us a reason to think about when action would be necessary.

There are emergencies where you have a better idea of when to do something. When the floodwater or forest fire reaches your house or close enough to cut off escape, it is time to go. When you see what are clearly enemy paratroopers land in the field beside your school (and certainly when they shoot the history teacher), it is time to go. Also, it’s time to leave immediately with what you can pick up and carry out quickly. You don’t have time to get a rental truck up to the house to load grandma’s wedding china. Not every scenario is as clear cut as these or requires the same response.

My thoughts turned to what kind of things would I look for in the flu epidemic to make me realize it was time to bug in? Is there any time when we would agree to leave the area? I have a limited amount of leave time at work and the kids have a limited number of days they can miss school, so it would have to be serious. I would have considered bugging in if I heard a combination of things that I think would signal that the epidemic was getting out of hand: if several patients were dying of the flu; if Tamiflu was being rationed or was unavailable; if I got a sense from medical staff, emergency personnel, or other such people that it could actually be a real problem; or the big one, if I saw any evidence of temporary hospitals being set up in gymnasiums, fairground buildings or large tents.

Many times in history and in disaster/apocalyptic films it seems that getting home or to the alternate bug out location early is key. It certainly would be critical for people who don’t live at or very close to their bug out location. In the movies, the viewer clearly sees signs of the disaster that the characters do not notice. I understand that this is because a movie where a family goes to a secure, well stocked location that they can easily hide or otherwise defend would be incredibly boring. But if it was real, and it was you and your family, then you need to notice signs and come up with appropriate levels of response. That led me to think of what could be more generic signs of an impending problem. Maybe one of these things is not that out of place, but a group of them might be:

  • stores out of stock on key items or many items (when not on sale or otherwise in demand – obviously a great sale on bacon will empty the shelves and it may be hard to find sweet potatoes the evening before Thanksgiving)
  • gas shortages
  • unexpected price increase on key items (gas fluctuates, but if the price doubles all at once something is fishy)
  • seeing posts or articles about something in your area on social media (there was recently a shooting at a plant in a nearby town and social media reported on it accurately long before local news media)
  • seeing a social media blackout locally or nationally (one might have a problem, but two or more may indicate an intentional block)
  • seeing a large number of seriously ill people as you go about your business.
  • unusual power outages
  • unusually bad cell service or no cell service in a place that is normally fine
  • unusual internet outages
  • many military vehicles and personnel in your area if you don’t live near a base or on a main highway/flight path (we get flyovers all the time, but would notice if there was a big increase or unusual patterns)
  • sudden absence of military vehicles and personnel in your area if you live near a base (it may indicate a training or exercise, but it could also be a lockdown or preparation for something)
  • unexplained cancellation of government activities such as commission meetings, parades, festivals, and so on
  • unexplained closure of government offices
  • local TV and radio stations stop broadcasting or change from the usual formats, especially if news stories are absent
  • mail or package delivery disruption
  • news reports of many people ill, dying or missing
  • news reports of an unusual number of dead or missing pets, especially in your neighborhood (I read once where burglars went through and let out pets from yards so there would be no barking when they went back to break in)
  • sudden increase in crimes in your area
  • controversial court case that could incite a riot in your area
  • roads unexpectedly blocked off
  • an accident with bodies lying around the vehicles – especially if there is a tanker involved (emergency responders have died breathing poison gas released when a semi or train carrying hazardous materials crashes and is compromised – watch for the HazMat placards!)
  • nature acting strangely – it would be odd if I saw no squirrels, birds, or other wildlife, on my way to or from work. Get used to how wild and domesticated animals behave in your area so that you can tell when things are off. Likewise be aware of trees and plants. If all oak trees dropped their leaves on June 1st, something is wrong.
  • government issued curfew, especially if it seems to be an overreaction to circumstances you know about.
  • certain websites going down, including survival sites, news sites, live webcam sites
  • in smaller towns, an increase in people when there is no apparent reason – they may be refugees from a nearby town headed onward or building up staff before making their move
  • the presence of utility vehicles in your area for an extended time with no apparent reason, especially if they are unmarked (If the power is on and the cable/internet works what are they up to? In fairness, sometimes contractors who work for multiple utilities use plain white vehicles.)
  • the presence of unusual vehicles generally in your neighborhood – dark sedans or SUVs (especially if very clean and new, Feds?) or perhaps cars cruising the neighborhood to see who is there and what can be stolen.

Next we need to identify from the signs we observe what might be going on now, and what appropriate response might be. Bugging in every time a helicopter flew over the house would be tiresome, especially if you live near an airport or hospital. Running away because you thought that the Independence Day fireworks was the commies finally making their move would get you laughed at by your friends at the very least.

To start, make a plan with your household about what you may want to do as a potential threat level increases. One step might be to keep gas tanks full, and stock up on any last minute items. The next level might be to stay home unless you are going to work or school only. This may reduce your exposure to infected people and statistically reduce your chances of being out when something bad happens. Perhaps if you do go out, such as to the store, everyone goes. This reduces your chances of getting split up. However it leaves your home empty. You have to consider what is going on as you make your plans. Should you all bug in for a few days? That could work, but you also have to consider whether you will let visitors in under these circumstances. Can your kids’ friends come to visit? That defeats the purpose of self-quarantine but also may be obvious what you are doing, which you may or may not mind. And finally, is there any reason you would decide to leave your home? What are they? Where would you go first? What if that place was compromised? Would you take anything? If so make sure it is easy to carry and ready to go. (Quick Note – Thousands of important documents and family photos fit on flash drives that can be carried easily or stored at a relative’s house in case your home is ever lost. Do encrypt the drive to protect from identity theft).

If you feel that you need to be more aware of things in your area, try to make connections in your community that may inform you of problems or give you a better sense of what is going on in the area. Joining the local CERT group is a way to be “in the know,” meet informed contacts, receive training, and maybe helps your community. The Red Cross and other volunteer groups may be similarly helpful in providing training and emergency alerts. The Rotary Club, Jaycees, and other service groups would broaden your contacts as well and increase the chances that you will hear news or rumors in time to act. If you live in a larger city, especially with a government or military presence, you may be able to observe the important people or their families and tell when they are acting differently. If the legislature suddenly dismissed mid-week during session, that might be a clue that something was wrong.

This entire article can be summed up into two simple thoughts – be aware of your surroundings and have a plan. Hopefully this has given you some things to think about in your efforts to be prepared.

Prizes For This Round (Ends on June 7, 2017) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize a $999 value:

  1. Numanna Organic Family Pack Bucket a $399 value from LPC Survival Ltd.
  2. CampingSurvival Gear Pack a $400 value from Camping Survival.com.
  3. A $200 gift certificate of prepper books from Prepper Press.

Second Prize a $650+ value:

  1. A case of .308 ammo or $300 off Ammo selection of your choice from LuckyGunner.
  2. A Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill with the Masa/Nut Butter Auger, Drill Bit Attachment, and Bicycle Sprocket Kit a $325 value from ChefBrad.com

Third Prize a $310+ value:

  1. $300 gift certificate from GunMag Warehouse.
  2. A copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How


  1. Jesse Mathewson says:

    Always keep tanks full, and have spare fuel- awesome advice!

    • Moira M says:

      Thank you! That is good advice for almost any situation. Nobody wants to wait for a friend to bring a gas can even when there isn’t an SHTF situation. Thanks for reading.

      • Jesse & Moira,
        Keep in mind also that spare fuel must be used regularly and replaced or it can go stale. Gasoline will lose some of its lighter more volatile components (like butane) and will essentially turn to varnish. Diesel will last a bit longer; but, can grow mold and other organisms that will consume it.
        So along with cycling through your fuel (except of course propane) you should probably add STA-bil or Prig to gasoline. PRIG states that gasoline can be stored for up to three years; but, again cool, dark and dry conditions.
        For diesel or fuel oil you can use PRID.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        OP, i cycle my gasoline stores every six months approximately – have a one gallon jug im testing storage time with- currently at approximately 16 months and still good, but has been stored out of sunlight in room temp-(72-76) conditions

      • Jesse,

        but has been stored out of sunlight in room temp-(72-76) conditions

        The only place I have those conditions is in the house, and except for a few gallons of Coleman fuel in 1 gallon square cans, I don’t keep volatile fuels like this in the occupied spaces where they IMHO present too much of a fire hazard.
        We do have a 125 gallon elevated tank in which we do occasionally keep some gasoline; but, that’s more for the mowers, tillers, etc.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        OP/ we have a pretty amazing “shop” 🙂

  2. JP in MT says:

    This entire article can be summed up into two simple thoughts – be aware of your surroundings and have a plan.

    Your right – that sums up what I believe our daily walk should be about.

    • Moira M says:

      Thank you JP in MT! I always enjoy your comments on articles.

    • JP,
      Or as General (now SecDef) James (Mad Dog) Mattis,stated:
      Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
      Situational awareness and both strategic and tactical planning should be an ongoing and everyday part of life.
      You cannot simply have a plan, since too often plans fall apart on first contact with reality, so multiple contingencies and being flexible are just as important.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        OP, so true, we have tertiary practiced plans, primary =’s regular practice, secondary / 3 times a year and tertiary once a year or so-
        Most importantly, for the core MAG is that we have all had active experience with major events, from combat through earthquakes and tornadoes- all plans fail, adapting is essential, having set principles tends to be far more important.

        (Eg., we wont be stealing/killing indiscriminately but we also wont starve or die because we fantasize about normalcy coming back right away -)

        Case in point, New Orleans, if I had been trapped in NO, I would have definitely gone house to house looking for survivors (carefully ) and or supplies- reality.

  3. Halfway Homesteader says:

    I don’t worry so much about “bugging out” or “bugging in”. I guess you could say I bugged out when I bought and moved to my 3 acres in the country. Granted, I still drive 35 minutes to Post for work everyday, and I have a GHB in my truck, but I don’t really “look for signs” so to speak. My “street” is a gravel road with 8 other families that live on it on their own acreage. I hunt with, trade work, and know all of them. I guess if it came to “bug-out time”, we’d just block off the road in to the “neighborhood” (and it’s a steep, uphill gravel road, easy enough to defend. I just kinda think, if you ever think it will come a time to “big out”, you probably ought to just go ahead and do it now, ahead of the rush.

    • Halfway Homesteader says:

      I realize that last comment may seem a bit snotty. Didn’t mean it to come across like that. Just meant, my own perspective, I already “bugged out”. So I don’t much look for “signs” of when it’s time to go. If you’re able, I’d quit the city or suburb scene now. Best to panic now, and avoid the rush 🙂

      • Moira M says:

        I didn’t think it was snotty at all! No worries. I agree with you. I have already bugged out, but I realize many people feel like they can’t yet. However, I still drive in to a small town to work, so I have considered at what point I would not go to work due to a potential crisis, as well as how to get home if something should take me by surprise. I also still go to town to shop, go to a movie, or something like that. I tried to consider this topic from our perspective as well as those who still live in cities and suburbs.

        I love your advice to Panic now and avoid the rush!

    • Halfway Homesteader,
      When you state:

      you probably ought to just go ahead and do it now, ahead of the rush.

      I understand and concur. We did this very thing 33 years ago and haven’t looked back. I’m now retired; but, when I was working it meant a commute from 25 to 40 miles one way; but, looking back, it was well worth all the effort.
      Over the years we’ve been able to consciously improve our location and situation, and with each improvement (which I suspect will never be completely finished) we feel more secure in an unstable world.
      I do understand those whose conditions have gotten them stuck in an urban environment; but, I’ve seen that generally as their choice, not wanting to make the sacrifices like a long commute to have that eventual satisfaction and security.
      If you need to live where there is entertainment like movie theaters and shopping close at hand, then you have made a choice that may impact your future, and since it’s your decision, I make no judgment; but, your life could end up much harder than the long commute would have been.

  4. A lot of thoughts of signs/symptoms of some type of catastrophic events happening. Plans are good with decontamination rooms and prepping your home/BOL for emergencies with plastic,duct tape, clorox and masks.

    • Moira M says:

      Great advice! It is good to consider how to secure/seal your home as well as how to decontaminate anyone you want to let in (especially if it was you that got caught outside).

      • MM, did you ever notice how the price of Lysol goes up around flu season. Spray heating vents,ducts and doorknobs.

      • Moira M says:

        True! Buy in the summer when it is cheaper and be prepared, or make your own products and avoid the weird chemicals.

      • Thor 1,

        Spray heating vents,ducts and doorknobs.

        That assumes you are killing some pathogen; but, if you avoid the pathogens by staying away from larger populations, your advice, while sage may not be necessary.
        You don’t have to kill something that isn’t there in the first place.
        Also, cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands.
        And keeping a good supply of N95 masks may also be a good thing.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        OP. In addition to N95 bags (which are in vehicle with black rubber gloves) I also have two cases of XL tyvek suits and booties- for $40 why not 🙂

      • Jesse,
        I have many boxes of N95 masks and a good supply of Nitrile Gloves; but, our plan for the most part is to stay away from infected areas. I’m working on getting some Tyvek suits and will hopefully have at least a few in the next month or so.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        OP, just realized I said N95 bags (haha) but yes, tyvek suits are worth having, I mean, you never know when you may need to avoid a pandemic, drop an anvil on someone or make some meth (yeah, Breaking Bad reference- and nope, never really understood the appeal of that show)

        But seriously, hey, they are pretty inexpensive to have, and offer basic to intermediate protection from a variety of things

      • Jesse,
        I will admit I started watching Breaking Bad at first. It included a talented chemist who had gotten a raw deal and was stuck teaching high school chemistry to kids who really didn’t care. When he initially started making high quality crystal methamphetamine, it was to raise money to take care of his family when he was diagnosed with cancer. There was also a lot of good chemistry on the show.
        When they essentially cured the cancer and he kept making product and turning rather evil, I stopped watching.
        I know some folks who will not watch a movie or show that is rated R; but, you can take a fine G and turn it into a R with a few words added to the script, so that rating doesn’t mean much to me.
        I however, will not watch any movies or show where I have to be rooting for the bad guy. That’s my line and I don’t cross it.

      • Moira M says:

        I’ve noticed that trend too – where you are meant to root for what is essentially a bad person to win. I avoid those also. I realized in the 80’s that the script had the person who went to work and handled their own affairs as being a stodgy stick in the mud who needed to change while the friend or sibling who didn’t hold a job, was broke, and had no ambition was the good guy that you were meant to want to be like and want to win out. It makes you wonder how long Hollywood has been trying to shape our society and in what ways.

      • OP, better safe than sorry……Lol

      • Anonamo Also says:

        Also there are other natural anti virals..sweetgum is one…double tinctured is used in same doases as tamiflu. takes 6-8 weeks to make. fresh young leaves, (bark or gum balls, better extraction cut in half or 1/4th…) all be used. Info on Darryl Pattons you tube. Garlic and oregano have shown antibacterial action. even against MRSA and other resistant bacteria, and Virus’ as well…( anyone has a right to not believe the reports, not to believe the herbalists,not to believe those who recieve no benefit from passing info along, but ones like poster below who wants to suppress information should get a life.)

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        AA, ive had poly bacterial infections and mrsa (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) three separate times, it happens when you get cut open multiple times in a year. It took 8 to 10 weeks with a pcc line and vancomycin steady drip strapped to my body to get rid of it.

        Dont be a fool, herbalism has benefits, absolutely- however. Alone, you will die, just like alone with only antibiotics you may die, drs are finding that mixing say honey and silver tinctures on open wounds will prevent many if not most infections – and if you ha’e one the use of good antibiotics/antivirals will prevent spread and kill-

        Btw, last time I had infection my wbc was over 60,000- I lost short term memory for almost a year as a result and do not remember the week I spent in the hospital.

        So yeah, I KNOW FOR A FACT, do not get taken in by shills – mix and match, there is a place for everything- if you are religious, a Christian or muslim or hindi etc., they all have verses/chapters- there is a time and place for everything…

        Please do not do yourself a disfavor by discounting either out of hand, or by accepting either out of hand. Make sense?

        Evidence. Always evidence.

      • Anonamo Also,

        but ones like poster below who wants to suppress information should get a life.)

        Can you tell or show me when anyone here has tried or succeeded in suppressing information?

  5. Selu Corn Mother says:

    Elderberry syrup or tincture works BETTER than Tamiflu, but works better as a preventative – in other words, taken every morning during cold and flu season. Even when I had two small grandsons living with me, and they were in public school, we NEVER caught a cold or flu.

    Elderberry syrup is easy to make. 1/2 c dried elderberries, 3 cups water. Simmer the elderberries in the water for 20 minutes with a lid on the pan, then strain out the elderberries and add either 3/4 – 1 c sugar or honey (obviously not honey if you have an infant in the house). Take a TBL every morning during cold and flu season, children can take less if you like, maybe 1/2 the adult dose, but they can take the full amount – this is Elderberry SYRUP for heaven sakes.

    Elderberry tincture is more concentrated, but either works just fine. Fill a jar about 1/4 full of dried elderberries and add alcohol to the top. Put on a lid and soak for 4-6 weeks, then strain off the berries IF YOU WISH. Take 1 tsp daily. You will have to decide if you wish to give your children alcohol (1/2 tsp), or if you’d rather just make them the syrup.

    Dried elderberries can be purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs $15 lb, Monterey Bay Herbs $10 lb, or Amazon $15 lb, among others. Or, if they grow wild in your area (blue or black ones – not the red ones) pick a bunch this summer and dry them yourself out of the direct sun.

    • Moira M says:

      I’ve just planted elderberry bushes! Thanks for the recipe and advice! I suppose for a year or two I will probably need to supplement my home grown elderberries with some ordered in.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Planting elderberry bushes sounds good, I should have thought of that as I planted a lot of medical herbs over the last 2-years.

        I need to look for a local place to buy them, or buy them on-line. I have found its hard to find unusual herbs or medical plants locally. I planted a lot of Confree 2-years ago and I could only find Comfree on Amazon.

        I bought Covfree root cuttings (only small root pieces, most of them were an inch long or so and 1/2 the thickness of a pencil) It took 2-months for them to poke-up out of the pots I started them in. And once planted in the ground they only grew to a foot or so tall last year and never flowered at all. This year they really took off well, they are over 3-feet tall right now and have flowering heads.

        Point being it takes time to get plants to grow so we all need to think ahead, I should have started elderberry bushes years ago…

      • Moira McKeand says:

        We try to plant a few fruit trees and other perennials or self-seeders every year. Plant while you can!

    • Selu Corn Mother,

      obviously not honey if you have an infant in the house

      This is only partially true. If you purchase raw honey that has not been seriously filtered or pasteurized at a high enough heat and time (as in pressure canning), then you are correct, since Clostridium Botulinum spores may be present, and infants under 12 months of age do not have a GI tract that has developed well enough (i.e., high enough acid and enzyme content) to inhibit the growth.
      You can pressure can honey to kill the spores; but, some think that can destroy some of the beneficial effects of honey. That may be true; but, in this case we only need the sweetening properties of honey which in this case will still be as good as or better than sugar.
      By filtering to remove the CB spores, you also remove pollen and propolis; but, if it has become your only sweetener, then these steps would be important if you have young infants around.

  6. Ronald Beal says:

    Ths a good article, informative and well written- thanks! As a Professional Real Estate Appraiser, at times I had to document factors in the local, state and national level which might affect prices in the long term. In teaching new appraisers I found they were like almost everyone else i society – they lived in a daze! I ask a class to report on what they had seen on the way to class- some driving over an hour in rural and urban areas near the Atlanta area. Out of a class of 45 people not a single person could relate anything they had seen, except tail lights, cops and nice cars/trucks. Typical for the masses. The message, already stated, ‘pay attention’! Think, analyze continually and remember.

    • Moira M says:

      In high school a friend’s science project was to have a stranger run into the room, take her purse off of her desk and leave. She then asked everyone to write down as much detail as they could remember. A few of us wrote out a decent narrative. Most had trouble remembering if he was white or black and what he was wearing, even though they were watching him. People who are not aware of their surroundings need to start practicing immediately.

  7. Great article. Being prepared is a mindset our family has had for generations. My folks being Depression era, they instilled the need to save and make do. We never had the latest and greatest anything growing up but we didn’t have debt either. Taking on a mortgage payment was a necessity but my parents still live in the house we grew up in and they have little wants. As I struggle with my farm and financial obligations I know I’ll be in the same boat financially as we are living within our means and sound planning is involved for major purchases. No bug out for me. You did an excellent job in giving examples of what to look for which is a great reminder for me to pay attention to social media.

  8. Laurie Manno says:

    Every household should have short wave radios and know how to operate them in the event everything goes south & all communications are down??? There will always be a ham operator
    out there!!!

    • Moira M says:

      Great advice. This is on my wish list.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        I would say to look for a used shortwave portable radio that sideband or a BFO on it so you can listen to ham radio guys. Most ham radio on shortwave is done in sideband mode so it’s important to have it. Ham radio guys are very active during any disaster and will have info you will likely find helpful.

        Sony 2010, Sangean 803A are both good radios to look for on E-Bay. And both are able to receive sideband.

        Shortwave radios have a long life, many of them from the 1970’s and newer work as well now as when they were made. The only problem is in the batteries compartment, if old batteries were left in it they may have messed up the contacts. Make sure you open up the battery compartment to make sure it’s clean.

        Shortwave is not like most electronics, a radio from 1950 will still work for today as it did back them because shortwave radio is still used like it was back then. A 3-year old computer is well out of date, this is not the case with shortwave radio that is 30-years old.

        E-Bay is the place to look for a quality used shortwave radio

        Here is the Sony 2010


        And the Sangean 803A (also sold by Radio Shack as the DX_440, basically the same radio)


        Everyone knows the name Sony as a quality product, but almost no one knows the Sangean name. But it is every bit the quality radio that a Sony is. It’s well known by radio enthusiast for quality portable shorwave radios. Sangean’s are less expensive then a Sony ($100.00 less on E-bay) but work just as well.

        I have the Sangean (bought back in the late 1980’s so it’s over 30-years old at this point) and it’s a great radio and not that complicated to use.

      • Moira M says:

        Thanks for the advice. I’ll have to start watching sales and eBay.

      • Chuck,

        Most ham radio on shortwave is done in sideband mode so it’s important to have it.

        I don’t know how active you are on HF, and while this is generally true, more and more operations are going pseudo digital, using various sets of tones transmitted over the air to send email and other content as well as the original digital mode CW. CW is Continuous Wave which is radio terminology for sending and receiving Morse code. While it’s good to be able to send and receive in that mode with just your ears, there are free programs available for computers and Smartphone’s that would at least let you receive and decode these different modes. The most prevalent one is Fldigi. This program can be downloaded at no cost and when running on your device and listening to the audio from the speaker, can decode these different modes including CW.

        Ham radio guys are very active during any disaster and will have info you will likely find helpful.

        Absolutely; but, even receiving information and learning how to use features life the BFO (Beat Frequency Oscillator) are skills like any others, that should not be left to fumbling around when you have an actual need, so practicing beforehand, even for receiving is important.
        As for radio that will let you listend to the world, I have radios ranging from an old 1941 Philco and 1980’s Radio Shack receiver, as well as 3 transceivers from the 1980’s that still work well.
        I still make regular contacts on two Kenwood radios purchased back in 1981 & 1982.

  9. IdahoBob says:

    Pandemics by their nature cannot easily be avoided. That is if there is a virus that is virulent enough to spread around the world it cannot be avoided by staying home or washing your hands. That is the nature of this kind of virus; airborne as well as skin and objects that have been touched by someone who is ill. Equally true of a pandemic is that it kills the rich and poor, the strong and the weak, those with strong immune systems and those with weak ones ad of course the young and the old.

    In a true pandemic, for example like the great flu pandemic of 1918, you will most likely get sick unless you have already been exposed to a similar strain of the virus. You may live, you may die either one for reasons we don’t know and may never know. Maybe… maybe for good healthcare provided very quickly can save you. Maybe a hospital will be the worst place for a sick person to be. Good care will help but there are no guarantees.

    If the world has a pandemic you will most likely lose friends and loved ones and/or they might lose you. It’s gonna be pretty much a crap shoot.

    • Moira M says:

      Sad, but likely true. I think the best we can do is to stack the odds in our favor as much as possible and pray for the best.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Wonder how Four Thieves Oil would work?

        Don’t know if it’s true or not, may be just a tall tale, but it’s said that it worked for the Black Death of the mid 1300’s

      • Moira M says:

        I wonder if some of the old remedies will be what saves us.

        2001 BC Here, eat this root.
        1000 AD That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
        1850 AD That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
        1920 AD That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
        1945 AD That pill is ineffective. Here, take this penicillin.
        1955 AD Oops… bugs mutated. Here, take this tetracycline.
        1960-1999 AD 39 more “oops”… Here, take this more powerful antibiotic.
        2000 AD The bugs have won! Here, eat this root.

    • IdahoBob,

      Pandemics by their nature cannot easily be avoided. That is if there is a virus that is virulent enough to spread around the world it cannot be avoided by staying home or washing your hands.

      I disagree. Avoiding crowds and people cann often keep you safe, since the viral or bacterial infection has to come in contact with you, and living far enough from large population centers can keep you from contact. Perhaps the hardest thing here would be the self imposed isolation, so you better be comfortable with your family and surroundings and not be easily bored. Having non technical past times like card or board games or musical instruments can also help.
      When people use the 1918 pandemic or the black plague as examples, they always seem to conveniently leave out the important facts that we can avoid.
      The plague was spread by Yersinia pestis carried by the fleas on the rats that infected much of Europe, after annihilating the cats because of superstition.
      The 1918 pandemic occurred mostly in large “modern” cities; but, 1918 modern was horribly lacking in sanitation, and antibiotics had not yet been invented. While antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections, quite often, what kills the patient are secondary infections and organ system problems that can be helped with modern medicine. In1918, those who lived in rural areas with livestock, gardens, hand pumps and outhouses were often better off than their big city cousins.
      So clean water, good sanitation, and distance, can help everyone.

      That is the nature of this kind of virus; airborne as well as skin and objects that have been touched by someone who is ill.

      True; but, airborne is unlikely to travel into the deep rural areas, and with limited access from infected people, clean water, good sanitation, and being able to hunker down and live with little outside contact, one should be able to survive and even thrive until the pandemic burns itself out, and they always do.
      For those who talk of prayer and the use of medicinal plants, I don’t disagree; but, had these things worked, the plague would be barely a footnote in history.
      Perhaps the greatest thing humankind has done over the centuries to extend and enhance life, is simply understanding pathogens (bacteria and viruses) and learning how to use sanitation and proper nutrition to avoid them.

      • IdahoBob says:

        You are presumably correct. But can you ever go back to civilization? Or can you go back after a year or two years? Will animals carry the disease to you? If you have children or even adults in your group will they ignore your wishes and make contact with others? Regardless of the answer the question still remains; are you sure? You are betting your life.

      • IdahoBob,

        You are presumably correct. But can you ever go back to civilization? Or can you go back after a year or two years?

        Historically and clinically all pandemics burn themselves out by stalling on those who are naturally immune and killing off those who are not, in either case running out of hosts to infect and carry on. This is where communication would be imperative, so you could find out what’s going on around you both locally and at more distant locations. Amateur radio equipment, or even CB with enough practice to be proficient would IMHO be ideal; but, even multiband receivers would be very useful, again with some practice beforehand, since tuning and decoding even voices through heavy static is something improved with practice.

        Will animals carry the disease to you?

        That’s possible, so you’ll need to be able to deal with those animals to both dispatch them and safely dispose of the remains. We have that same situation in the here and now with things like rabies and distemper, Lyme disease, and CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease, e.g., Mad Cow disease in deer)

        If you have children or even adults in your group will they ignore your wishes and make contact with others?

        Only one adult in the group who lives here (the DW) with all of the MAG members living from a few hundred yards to several miles, and all responsible adults.

        Regardless of the answer the question still remains; are you sure? You are betting your life.

        We all bet our lives every day. Drive on the highway and get hit by a drunk. Stay home and have an airplane crash into your house. Prepping does not make you bulletproof or let you become immortal; but, the lifestyle and mindset helps you mitigate as much as you can foresee.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        If you have children or even adults in your group will they ignore your wishes and make contact with others?

        I will be “crucified” for saying this but the answer is quite obvious, if they choose to cause or threaten harm to you and yours through force of will…than they can stay where they go- at least in my mag, any threat to overall safety will be dealt with quickly and without ridiculous first world USA/Britain ideals regarding prison-

      • Jesse,

        any threat to overall safety will be dealt with quickly and without ridiculous first world USA/Britain ideals regarding prison-
        I think this is a bit rash; but, may be inevitable. I would first start with banishment and then if the problem person doesn’t take their leave, well….
        This reminds me of a dilemma in one of the first prepper (post apocalyptic) books I ever read: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, where an outsider comes into the group carrying an infectious disease and has to be dealt with also inevitably causing the death of the son of the protagonist.
        This book was written in 1949, making it two years older then me, although I think I read it before I was a teen. The age has made it now free to download, here:
        Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        I will check it out, when it comes to my family/tribe/mag survival is essential and any threat to that cannot be allowed.

    • Patriot Dave says:

      Just getting your mail out of the mail box that was touched by the letter carrier, who just touched a contaminated letter from some place else, could get you infected if you are not thinking. Sheriffs go door to door, insist on inspections, and disregard your ‘quarantine’. You have dogs and have to let them out regularly. Neighbor pets them. Very easy to make a minor slip.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        PD, first –
        first, learn FEMA/local X codes-
        second, I would doubt that many PDs will be able to sustain door to door anything if it is a viral/bacterial pandemic event
        lastly, know your neighbors and through that knowledge understand where your weaknesses and strengths will be.

        Regardless, dont fear an event, prepare and do so with knowledge of what has occurred multiple times throughout history. My dad agrees with preparing, I learned much of my habitual prepping from him…my mother states and I quote, “God will provide, why would I need…?” To anything and everything, regardless how many times my dads and my “preps” have gotten them and or my family l through tight times. Lol

        (Thankfully I am married to a lady who understands and in fact very much agrees with)

      • Jesse,

        …my mother states and I quote, “God will provide, why would I need…?” To anything and everything,

        I suspect the Europeans during the Bubonic Plague were all in constant prayer, and we see how much that helped. I suspect even the most devout person of religion with a few exceptions would take a bandage and antibiotics over prayer for something like a gunshot wound.

        (Thankfully I am married to a lady who understands and in fact very much agrees with)

        Same here and we are both truly blessed. It helped that my DW grew up in a rural setting (actually only a few miles from here) and already understood that at the very least you don’t want to run out of any staples like TP, milk, etc, when your options for acquiring more are miles away, and until recently (e.g., Wal-Mart) had limited hours of operation.
        When she was younger, running out of TP at 3:00 AM was a very bad thing, and if you ever did it, you only did it once, LOL.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        OP, truth, hahah sounds like we got the good ones 🙂

      • Patriot Dave,

        Just getting your mail out of the mail box that was touched by the letter carrier, who just touched a contaminated letter from some place else, could get you infected if you are not thinking.

        Nitrile gloves to get the mail and then disinfect with chemicals or UV lights. All in place. The key here is BTW, to always be thinking and don’t do anything rash, rushed or unplanned..
        Additionally, I suspect that in a real pandemic, mail service will sease rather quickly.

        Sheriffs go door to door, insist on inspections, and disregard your ‘quarantine’.

        In our county I volunteer with our county EMA and we not only support the first responders; but, know many of them, and can have direct radio comms with the dispatchers, so when we say we’re OK, they will move on and deal with the less prepared.

        You have dogs and have to let them out regularly. Neighbor pets them. Very easy to make a minor slip.

        No dogs right now, only permanently outdoor and indoor cats. When we did have dogs, they never were simply released to run free, since we have roads and traffic too close, so they have always been in a large pen (now occupied by the chickens) or on a line.
        These are not bad points, simply points that don’t generally apply to us

  10. Chuck Findlay says:

    Pandemics by their nature cannot easily be avoided.

    This is true. I think there is a tendency to think we have built a system to keep bad things at bay. And in many ways this is true. But it also is true that if we take away the grid and the infrastructure it gives us to have a clean environment that viruses and bacteria (that have always been there) will again flourish as they have in the past.

    We preppers like to think we are prepared for such things, but that’s probably a false amputation.

    If you interact with others (and we all do) you will be exposed to what they have. Every family that sends their kids to a school is aware of this. One kid gets something and it makes the rounds with most of the kids in the school.

    • IdahoBob says:

      We often get our grandchildren for a weekend or for weeks at a time in the Summer. Love them, love their visits, can’t wait for the next one. But it seems that every time one or more is sick and sure enough every time we get sick. Pretty much that happened with my own children too when they were young. Children and schools equal spreading colds and worse. Simple as that. As adults we tend not to have the close contacts with strangers or even friends that children commonly have. In an adult only environment where we also choose not to go out on the town (so to speak) we probably could avoid most illnesses. But for how long. Possibly long enough for it to be gone from the environment, but that could mean months or realistically from September to June. So it is “possible” to avoid but unlikely and if you put children into the equation I think it becomes impossible to avoid whatever is out there.

    • Chuck,

      if we take away the grid and the infrastructure it gives us to have a clean environment that viruses and bacteria (that have always been there) will again flourish as they have in the past.

      This I think is truer for those in the city. Here in a rural area we can provide most of our own needs and although it would be hard, it would not be as catastrophic as those in the city who absolutely rely on services beyond their control. Even in bad times, those who had distance from population centers and had wells and outhouses could maintain relative health by understanding and using good hygiene and sanitation practices

      We preppers like to think we are prepared for such things, but that’s probably a false amputation.

      I’ll just cut this comment off right here, LOL.

      If you interact with others (and we all do)

      Yep and that’s why we use radio, and even avoid visiting when one of us has a cold, let alone some pandemic illness.
      And at least in my case, the youngest child is out of college and lives in another state, while the 2 eldest live in Ohio several hours away and would fir in if we needed them; but, would also not risk spreading something to us.

  11. Chuck Findlay says:

    Auto correct strikes again 🙁

    Assumption not amputation.

  12. One question I have that is scary is info of pandemics/viruses/bacteria, buried under ice in the Arctic’s, that will wipeout humanity. Sounds like a good narrative for a red flag event. Thoughts ???

    By the way good article and good timing.

    • Moira M says:

      I was just reading up on that! It sounds like something out of a movie or at least the X-Files.

      Thanks! I appreciate it.

      • Moira M,

        I was just reading up on that! It sounds like something out of a movie or at least the X-Files.

        I think it seems like that because it is. The most lethal toxin in the world is botulinum toxin type H
        A lethal dose for a human is 13-Billionths of a gram, so 1 gram can kill 76923000 people, meaning that 4 grams could kill the entire US population. The trick as well as the fallacy of a statement like this is however: how to deliver the 13 picogram dose to each person.
        Ancient viruses under the ice have that same issue, and unfortunately are often reported by media who are scientific ignoramuses or simply hyping the story for advertising dollars. It is of course much better to make money spreading disinformation than making less and actually reporting the facts, don’t you know.

  13. First of all, you missed communications outside of normal cellular or landline phones (both of which we have) and should think about radios to listen to the local news, as well as weather radios that broadcast EAS (Emergency Alert System) messages on more subjects than just weather. Having other communications means like ham radio or at the very least CB radio, can give you communications around your area using nothing but battery power.
    I keep up to date on my influenza and pneumonia vaccinations and haven’t had the flu for most of two decades.
    I also think that in our case there are two additional things that help that condition
    1. our somewhat remote location helps a bit, since we’re away from the crowds and avoid them (the crowds) as much as we can, at the same time being only 15 miles from a decent hospital, doctors, and amenities like multiple dollar stores, big box stores, and grocery and incidental shopping.
    2. The fact that our DD along with her older brothers are grown and gone, and don’t drag home all of the crud that gets passed around school, especially in the elementary grades.
    While I did not initially start volunteering at my local EMA for anything other than working with emergency communications (ARES & RACES), my involvement there has gotten me a lot of additional training, and access to confidential (although not secret) information, since we work in cooperation with local EMS including the health department, and actually have protocols in place for an NBC attack or pandemic situation.
    Our plans for anything are to shelter in place, since we can live quite well for a long time here at the homestead if required.
    When I look at your list of early warning signals I mostly agree and it again makes me even happier that I’m retired and live in a rural area; but, surrounded by numerous great and helpful neighbors.

    • OP, I don’t get flu vaccinations anymore after the last one made my nose bleed in my sleep. That hadn’t happened since I was a child and they were using live viruses. I instead use natural ways of building up the immunity system via garlic,oregano and natural and over the counter vitamins
      The health organization rarely even gets the strain right anyway. I suggest that you living in a more rural area with less contact is what may have prevented you from illness.

      • Thor 1,
        To each his own, I’ve gotten flu vaccinations now every year for more than 30 and have had no problems and not gotten the flu in all of those years. I ended up in the hospital overnight with pneumonia back in 2008 after returning from our Hawaii trip and now get the pneumonia shot when the doc says I’m due, which I think is about every 5 years or so.
        We all have to do what we have to do and whatever works fir each of us individually is the right course.

      • IdahoBob says:

        I totally agree. I have no problem with the individual choice to not get the flu vaccine even if the reasoning makes no sense medically/scientifically. Where I do disagree is spreading the superstitions that things like garlic,oregano and natural and over the counter vitamins are going to help in any way. It is about the equivalent of wearing your hat backwards to play baseball because once when you did that you won so therefore… yadda, yadda, yadda. Enjoy your superstitions but don’t try to influence others who might actually believe them and thus fail to take intelligent precautions. Good luck and knock on wood so you won’t get sick.

      • IB, stats



        Do you not believe in vitamin C ?
        Garlic has been used for years to cure or defeat illness because it boosts immunity. So
        NA NA NA NA NA !!! LOL

      • Oh yeah flip a coin 50%.

      • IdahoBob says:

        I absolutely believe in vitamins. If you get your MDR’s it is healthy and necessary. Getting 2 or 10 times your MDRs does not make you healthier or make your immune system that of superman. Simple as that!

        Does garlic boost your immune system? No proof except the superstition of people who have been using it for years. I assume that they still die of old age and get other diseases too. It is a lot like the superstitious cures for baldness. IMHO you would be better off to wipe the garlic on your bald head then to eat it in the belief it was magic.

        But you missed the point. I don’t care. You can overdose on vitamin C or garlic, I don’t care. But when you try to sell your personal superstitions as fact and good advice you are doing a disservice to others.

      • IdahoBob,

        But you missed the point. I don’t care. You can overdose on vitamin C or garlic,

        I don’t know about Garlic; but, since vitamin C is water soluble, all you generally do is create expansive urine.
        You OTOH can however overdose on vitamin D & E since they are fat soluble and hang around longer.

        But when you try to sell your personal superstitions as fact and good advice you are doing a disservice to others.

        I agree, especially when there are very promising new antibiotics becoming available soon.
        A Recent Breakthrough In Antibiotics Discovery

      • IB, I not once said to take too much of anything, what I said is it helps heal or prevent.



        A few examples. No disservice here.

      • IB, and the nicest thing of all is if it were a SHTF/grid down scenario, the meds stop and you can grow garlic. Blood pressure meds,cholesterol meds & antibiotics wouldn’t be available. Endless supply of garlic/oranges and many other plants even dandelions.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        Thor1, did you know you can cultivate your own antibiotics at home ?

        No one is arguing that garlic, honey, silver iodides etc., have their place- shoot many modern doctors are promoting use of- Tucson Arizona houses three of the top medical research facilities for wound care, cancer and heart disease (not too mention world renowned spine doctors etc.,) I have learned much from them…and you know what I learned the most…

        I am not an antivaxxer/ BUT seeing as they make flu vaccines based on last years strain…I havent take one since 2006 and havent had a major bout, I wont fault others for taking one…ive also learned that the commonly propagated lie about omgarsh mercury/ is while true that mercury exists as a binder/ you would as a human have to take 50-100 vaccinations a day to have enough mercury from them to harm you by the time you reached 50 😉

        Myth. Fantasy. Reality and reason.

        I prefer reality and reason.

        Yes I grow and eat garlic, onions and love local unboiled (of course it better be filtered) honeys and credit my ingestion of less hormone laden meats and overly processed foods with my relative health (spine was neither affected by nor can it be healed by any of the above-it was CONGENITAL)

        I will not go so far as to say, omgurd my way is the only way by garsh…the sky is fallin the sky is fallin.

        Hope that makes sense. 🙂 gain real knowledge, avoid fan fiction and mother earth news 🙂

        Grow a garden. Be proud of your self sufficiency. (And remember pill form solid antibiotics store for upwards of 30 years in stable, light reduced areas- eg., its okay to have a supply of medications 🙂 but know the limits of home remedies (life expectancies on them were 35-45 years old) and modern medicines mixed with a judicious amount of healthy living (75-85)

        Have a great day 🙂

      • “seeing as they make flu vaccines based on last years strain”

        Not true. I admit the methodology does indeed cause them to miss the mark but it is not based on last years flu. The creating of the vaccine takes about 9 months. So some very intelligent people use the best data available to them and decide which strains to target 9 months later. Sometimes a different virus becomes the predominate one so it appears to most people it was a complete miss. It is not. While the numbers of different flus is huge the numbers of basic strains is quite limited. If you get the shot for a particular strain of flu and a different flu emerges that shot can still provide a margin of immunity for most people. Given the difficulty of the task they face what they can achieve each year with the flu vaccine is pretty remarkable.
        Does this inherent problem allow naysayers and anti-vaxers the opportunity to spread their lies and rumors? Yes. Do all the lies and rumors that are spread influence the naive and scientifically challenged to avoid life saving vaccines? Yes. Is it ironic and sad that the ghouls who spread this anti-propaganda enjoy misleading people and causing more death and suffering? Yes! But that’s what fools do. So snicker up your sleeve that the scientists are faced with a near impossible task of determining 9 months ahead of time which flu strain will predominate the world and how much smarter you are if that actually makes you feel smarter. But simply be aware that you do not know what you do not know and those of us who do believe you to be misinformed fools.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        Oneguy, thank you didn’t know, and not sn antivaxxer myself – again thank you

      • OG, I believe there are 3 main strains of flu, correct? Which is why they have a 50% rate on making it for the right strain. Here is my question, why can’t they mix all 3 strains into one shot?

      • Thor 1,

        OG, I believe there are 3 main strains of flu, correct?

        Actually there are four types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D, with Human influenza A and B viruses causing seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States.

        Here is my question, why can’t they mix all 3 strains into one shot?

        There are dozens of strains and subtypes that are caused by mutation, often where we have animals in cloase contact with humans, which is why we often see them called avian flu or swine flu. I think most of these animal / human interactions come from China where peasants live closely with pigs and birds.
        Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 18 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 11 different neuraminidase subtypes. (H1 through H18 and N1 through N11 respectively.)
        So you can see from the information above that mutations can cause a lot of different influenza characteristics. Teams of researchers and doctors analyze sample outbreaks and track them to attempt to predict the most likely strains to include.
        In science and engineering we have two acronyms:
        WAG (Wile Ass Guess) and SWAG (Scientific Wile Ass Guess)
        I think this sometimes comes very close to a SWAG.
        This information comes from the CDC web site and can be found in more details here: Types of Influenza Viruses

      • Oops,
        WAG (Wile Ass Guess
        should have read
        WAG (Wild Ass Guess
        and the same for SWAG

      • IB, too much water can kill you too. But, you can’t live without it. You can’t live without oxygen, but O zone, which is tri-oxide, will kill you.

      • IdahoBob says:

        I’m not sure where that is going but I will guess it is about vitamins. The best minds have made their best guesses about these things and the result is the MDR’s. I’m a mechanic and I’ve always been a mechanic even when I worked jobs where my hands stayed clean. I know that a little oil is needed to prevent friction but a lot of oil can destroy a machine. It’s kinda like the MDR’s. Most things in life require common sense but indeed there are things in life that are more complicated and we are simply not sure what is “right” and what is not. In America we have about 1 million doctors. We all know doctors and some of us have doctors in the family. I simply do not believe the conspiracy theories that doctors intend us harm with their advice or actions. Mistakes are made to be sure, but they are mistakes not conspiracies. 99% of the doctors recommend vaccinations as the safest way to prevent the diseases that we have vaccines for. I do not believe they are either fools or lying to us.

        I try to know what is right. I try to learn and keep up with science and current knowledge. I recognize that there are scammers and fakers and simply people who are wrong or incompetent. I try to fight through the data to discover the truth. I allow and agree that each person needs to also do this for themselves. I simply want to help and offer what I know or believe I know. It is actually OK with me if someone choose otherwise. I truly don’t care. But in a debate/discussion what else can you do but give your honest opinion and your reasons as part of that debate. That is all I seek to do.

      • Thor 1,

        too much water can kill you too. But, you can’t live without it.

        True, and it can kill you sooo many ways.

        You can’t live without oxygen, but O zone, which is tri-oxide, will kill you.

        Actually Ozone is Tri-Oxygen. It must combine with another element to make an oxide compound. It can kill you; but, then again, so can pure O2 since in high concentrations it can be toxic since it is reactive with so many other compounds and elements.

      • JP in MT says:


        We have a college mission group in India. Just heard that half of them are sick. My guess – water.

        I suggested that in the future the pastor hooks these college kids up some old soldiers and 3rd-world travelers before they go.

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        JP, honestly, they didnt bring water filters? 😉

      • JP,
        You might have them contact the Seyschelle Company (seychelle.com/
        ). I have some of their filter bottles purchased from the LDS online store; but, I understand that the bottles were invented to help the clean water problem in the 3rd world, and they may offer discounts to groups like yours.
        Just a thought.

    • Moira M says:

      Too true! I forgot about communication like ham, shortwave, and CB radios. That would be a great way of getting good information from a distance. That is one reason I was excited to write this article. You can count on the wolf pack to add great ideas that you might have missed.

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