How to Prepare for a Pandemic

Flu pandemics can affect a significant portion of the population before a government health agency even realizes the cases of a rapidly spreading illness are connected. Even a mild to moderate level pandemic can spiral out of control quickly during (or after) a SHTF event.

During normal times, a flu pandemic has the capability to kill tens of thousands of people over the course of a few short weeks or months. During a long-term disaster, the death toll could register in the millions in about the same amount of time.

The flu spreads quite easily from one person to the next, typically via being exposed to the cough or a sneeze of an infected person. A flu pandemic has the potential to spread around the planet in as little as six to nine months.

If a flu pandemic is part of the domino effect after a SHTF scenario, the spread may be slower because air travel might no longer be an option. But, the death toll as the flu pandemic spreads could likely be higher due to the lack of emergency medical care.

What Causes a Flu Pandemic?

Although a flu pandemic would spread in the same manner as a seasonal flu, more folks exposed to a sick person would in turn get sick themselves because only a rare few people would have an immunity built up against a pandemic strain.

This is why flu shot are created annually to make them hardy against new strains of the virus. By the time a viable shot could be created to deal with a flu pandemic, the death toll will already be devastating.

Each year, outbreaks of both influenza A and influenza B viruses occur. These outbreaks are caused by even small changes to the existing virus that allow them to be immune to either existing shots or a natural immunity built up over time due to previous bouts with the flu.

Only influenza A can cause a pandemic. When one or both of the surface proteins in influenza A experience a significant change, an entirely new virus (one that it is unlikely that anyone around the globe is immune to) is created, and conditions are ripe for either a flu epidemic or a flu pandemic.

What Is the Difference Between a Flu Epidemic and a Flu Pandemic?

An epidemic is an outbreak of a specific illness or disease that occurs at the same time and spreads to neighboring communities or regions. A pandemic can begin as an epidemic but the terminology changes not necessarily as the death toll rises, but as the outbreak spreads beyond a regional one to a statewide, nationwide, or global emergency health situation.

Flu Pandemic History and Dangers

During the last century, flu pandemics caused millions of not only tragic deaths, but significant economic upheaval and disruptions in society. Prepping for a flu pandemic must involve more than emergency medical materials stockpiling.

Because our world is so interconnected and co-dependent, both the economic and social impact is likely to be huge. The SARS outbreak in 2003 is a prime example of the overall havoc a pandemic can cause in our modern world. The disruption was felt across most business sectors, and the high cost of treating the illness, was felt in countries far beyond the outbreak regions.

While many scientific experts agree that another flu pandemic on a global scale is going to happen, they remain quite unsure of when it will occur.

The largest and most well-documented incidents of flu pandemics happened with the 1918 outbreak of the H1N1 – or Spanish flu, the H2N2 Asian flu in 1957, and again in 1968 with the Hong Kong or H3N2 flu.

The most recent flu pandemic occurred in 2009 when the swine flu (H1N1) killed approximately 575,000 people. Although the bird flu (H5N1) does not easily infect people, it still has been causing alarm for more than a decade due to its extremely lethal nature.

Governments around the world are taking the threat of a flu pandemic so seriously that not only are plans and checklists available for families, but also for businesses and governmental operations at all levels.

How To Prepare For a Flu Pandemic

Non-Medical Stockpiling Essentials

During a flu pandemic, you should not expose yourself to the population outside of your home unless it is an absolute matter of life and death. Getting to a hospital or store will be an extremely dangerous proposition. You would most likely be exposed to individuals with the easily transmitted flu and/or marauders who are using the SHTF event to steal… or worse.

Store shelves will be bare within hours, anyway. Hospitals will be overwhelmed with patients – all of which are most likely suffering from the illness you are desperately trying to avoid.

Most government preparedness plans advise you to keep enough food, water, and medicine on hand to last three days to two weeks. We have all lived through a regular flu season – it is likely you should stockpile essentials that would allow you to remain indoors for up to three months to avoid becoming afflicted with the deadly illness.

Shelf Stable Food Items to Stockpile for a Flu Pandemic:

Dried fruitCrackers
Canned meatCanned vegetables
Canned beansCanned soups
Powdered cheeseGranola
Powdered eggsWheat
Powdered milkPeanut butter
Bottled waterComfort food like cookies, candy, and pop
Canned or powdered juiceBaby formula

Basic Emergency Supplies:

FlashlightsBatteries in all sizes
Pet and livestock foodManual can openers
ToiletriesGarbage bags
Toilet paperEmergency radio
Walkie TalkiesLime – although unpleasant, you should expect to deal with dead bodies during a pandemic
Money – cash but also bartering items and precious metalsComfort items like books, board games, etc.

Medical Supplies to Stockpile

Getting an extra supply of prescription medications is highly recommended, but will likely be difficult to do. If you are able to legally acquire additional medications for chronic conditions, expect to pay for them out of pocket, unless you have a truly flexible insurance company.

Many preppers stockpile fish and livestock medications to substitute for prescription drugs during a long-term disaster. If you choose to go this stockpiling route just for an emergency medical situation where professional medical help is not available, please research dosages wisely – getting the amount wrong could be deadly. Even getting the dosage amount correct does not ensure safe usage.

Stockpiling natural alternatives to prescription medication – herbs, roots, flowers, and “weeds” is yet another avenue preppers pursue to help guard the health of their loved ones during a flu pandemic or other SHTF doomsday disaster.

Simply because a “medicine” is natural does not mean it is safe, has no side effects, or is allergic reaction-free for everyone. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any natural remedy as a medicine.

Always check with your doctor before starting – or stockpiling, natural ingredients to use as medication or holistic alternatives, for human consumption.

Health and Medicine Essentials to Stockpile for a Flu Pandemic:

Prescription medicationsMedical tools and supplies: blood pressure monitoring equipment, thermometers, stethoscope, glucose meters, etc.
Medical skills – learn basic to preferably advanced first aid, and communicable disease protocolsRubbing alcohol
PeroxideDistilled white vinegar
Vodka – for disinfecting and making tinctures for natural remediesOver the counter cough syrups, pain killers, and fever reducers

Flu Pandemic Work Planning

Staying home from work is vital to your efforts to remain healthy and not carry germs home to your family. During a flu pandemic, it can take days to weeks before businesses and public agencies temporarily close or are ordered to do so by the government.

You must learn now if the business or public agency has a flu epidemic and pandemic plan worked into traditional sick leave and excused absence policies. If your place of employment has not addressed such an issue, relentlessly urge them to create a policy and discuss the possibility of telecommuting during a flu pandemic, as well.

If your efforts are not successful, find as many ways as possible to avoid close human contact as much as possible. Converse via email or a virtual go to meeting style group gathering instead of putting multiple people in close quarters.

Wear a mask over your face and nose to work – do not worry about looking silly. Staying healthy and alive and keeping your family in that same favored condition is all that matters.

Carry antibacterial waterless wash and handi-wipes with you. The doorknobs, bathrooms, and shared office machines can become a hotbed of contamination.

Consider wearing medical gloves – and still cleaning surfaces before touching them. Ideally, make you own antibacterial liquid that can be poured into both a spray and squeeze bottle to use when you absolutely must leave your home.

If you have a child who leaves the home for schooling, follow the same steps as noted above to determine whether or not a pandemic flu policy exists and to help safeguard the children from germs.

Teach your children to cover their coughs, wash their hands with warm soap and water frequently, to never share food or drink, and to use tissues when they sneeze. They should also learn how germs are transmitted so they can help avoid other children and adults who could be sick and are coughing and sneezing at school.

Pulling your child out of school and having them instead attend an online charter school or homeschooling them requires paperwork being filled out and sent to the school. Having a copy of such paperwork and a plan in place to deal with school absences to avoid truancy charges, should be put into the works now – not after disaster strikes.

How (and Why) to Set Up a Medical Quarantine Area in Your Home

Designate a spot in the bugin or bugout location or directly connected to it, to serve as a medical clinic and a quarantine area. This room should be as far away from food preparation and sleeping areas as possible.

Ideally, there should be a separate entrance door leading into the medical clinic and another door or airtight as possible barrier, separating the clinic from the quarantine room. The separate door will allow any loved ones coming to stay at the home to remain isolated from the rest of the household until you are sure they are flu symptom free.

The exterior door also permits you to remove any dead bodies without going through the home and potentially spreading germs.

Medical Quarantine Room Location

  • If you have a basement with a walkout door that can be adequately heated and ventilated, this could be a serviceable medical clinic and quarantine space.
  • An attached garage that can be heated is also an excellent choice for use as a medical clinic and separated quarantine space.
  • A camper, motor home, and even a tent depending upon the time of year or the climate, could also be used for a quarantine room.

Quarantine and Laundry Disposal Tips


Laundry will need to be dealt with on a regular basis when loved ones are being housed in either a medical clinic or quarantine room.

There are only two options when it comes to dealing with soiled clothes, medical gowns, and bedding: burning them or cleaning them. You have two basic options to deal with soiled clothing, bedding, and towels: wash them or burn them.

Soiled fabrics must be washed in hot water to ensure the removal of germs. Do not take soiled linens and clothing inside the home. Put a wash tub, plenty of disinfectant laundry soap, and thick disposable rubber gloves in both the medical clinic and quarantine room to clean any material that is not being carried directly outdoors to be burnt.

Human Waste

The loved ones in the medical clinic and quarantine room are going to have to go to the bathroom. If a traditional bathroom is not available, set up composting commodes inside each room. This can be as basic as a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat attachment or a camping composting commode.

Once filled, the waste should be burnt, never carried back inside the home. Cleaning the buckets (or you could stockpile many and simply burn the buckets, also) or commode will require a strong disinfectant and the person conducting the task adorned in thick rubber gloves, a face mask, and even safety goggles to avoid exposure to infected bacteria and germs.


Stockpile a lot of water and/or handi-wipes in the medical clinic and quarantine area so the sick loved ones can be kept as clean as possible.

Stockpile antibacterial soap and as many sponges or throw away wipes as possible to keep down the amount of contaminated laundry that must be dealt with during the flu pandemic.


There is an even chance that not everyone in your family will survive the flu pandemic, that’s the cold hard truth of it. Burying your loved one may not be a viable option. If you go this route because the body might need to remain indoors for several days before going outdoors is safe.

This is where the agricultural lime comes in. The lime will help prevent the stench of decomposition and deter bugs from getting at the body. The body should be wrapped in plastic before it is move outdoors for burial.

Could the soil become contaminated because of the burial? That is a very real possibility. Cremation is the best way to avoid the possible contamination during a SHTF pandemic.

Final Words

During a flu pandemic, you should not expect or rely upon the powder grid remaining functional throughout the entire ordeal. The federal government does have a plan to address concerns about critical infrastructure during a pandemic, but it has not yet been forced to be put into practice.

When prepping for a flu pandemic (or any type of pandemic or long-term disaster) do not rely upon or expect modern amenities to be fully functional, and bet on them alone for a heating, cooling, or cooking.

When developing a flu pandemic plan, base it on living off stockpiled energy sources and/or living out the ordeal in an off grid manner.

flu pandemic pin

10 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a Pandemic”

    • Jean,

      If you wait until the pandemic occurs to prepare, It’s often too late.

      Isn’t that the case for most or all of the events for which we prepare?
      Knowledge, Skills, and attitude along with whatever resources you can muster well ahead of time is the only way to deal with any uncertain future events and at least part of the reason we all participate here.

  1. Good , sound article… There are a few more things that should be made crystal clear.
    #1 OT C antibacterial hand treatment is not anti viral, is quite useless, and if you have a small child that sucks on their hand it can be toxic, causing alcohol poisoning.
    #2a better choice would be an antiviral of researched herbs… garlic is only one of the herbs that is highly antiviral. Other things beneficial,Colloidal silver, Peroxide( food grade)… One must know to make certain no one is allergic to any of the components… (some people are allergic to silver.)having own generator could be life saving as can sweetgum tincture. Elderberry concoctions….Knowing what is going around and using herbals at the first sign of flu would be key to changing a flu pandemic into an outbreak in local areas.. instead of being obliterating. will come back to this later. must go for now.

    • Anonamo Also,

      OT C antibacterial hand treatment is not anti viral, is quite useless, and if you have a small child that sucks on their hand it can be toxic, causing alcohol poisoning.

      This is an excellent point regarding children. Hand sanitizers normally use Isopropyl alcohol that like its methyl alcohol cousin is toxic if ingested.
      It is however useful on some viruses, including influenza, per this article:

      Do hand sanitizers really work?
      The article states in part:

      So for things like H1N1 you recommend people use hand sanitizer.

      This is the absolute best front-line protection for those kinds of diseases. These products appear to be a highly effective part of flu control programs.

  2. Here is why…. I say…what i say.. The short answer on handwashing and antibacterials is yes, each also HAS definite limitations. Many people are not aware of the limitations.
    #1.My family is most important to me and i do not want to get something I could have prevented by washing my hands, ..and anything else I have the ability to do.. Last year my DH had the flu, I did not get it. We were exposed to the same people at the same time. I was using oregano…pretty regular. He did shorten the event with sweetgum tincture. Knowing how much and HOW to use herbals is of ultimate importance. I know from our experiences. Double- sweetgum tincture should be used like the prescription liquid.. having that info printed out and placed on your herbals is important.
    Alcohol could be used as a carrier for things like tea tree, and oregano, To depend on it alone knowing it does not prevent norovirus and c diff, which cause massive fluid loss in a short period of time..would be a fools errand…. using tea tree might be a good way to keep everyone away from you…LOL

    #2 the research is all over the place on this, If you wish to give the best protection from all virals….You must know WHY some people say no and some say. yes… In a nutshell it works for some virals and Not so much for the ones that frequently cause Diarrheal illness. Hand washing is number one…

    What about the study finding more norovirus outbreaks with use of hand sanitizers?

    “This study does not change my routine recommendation that people should use a hand sanitizer,” Glatt says. He sees them as especially useful when water is not available.

    In the study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, CDC researchers looked at the use of hand sanitizers by the staff in 91 long-term care facilities. In those where the staff were equally or more likely to use the hand sanitizers over soap and water for routine hand hygiene, the chance of an outbreak was nearly six times greater.

    With virals, one of the main symptoms is body fluid loss. Having the recipe to make your own rehydration formula, anti-emetic and anti-diarrheals are urgent preps. Preferred fluids should be considered when buying replacement flavors especially for the youngest and older ones.
    Remember..No honey, for infants…Molasses replaces minerals as well as sugars, and is cooked. No asprin for babies and teens. store ibuprophen in age appropriate strength tablets if you have young children..liquids goes bad quickly,…- tablets, not so quickly.
    another take away from the multiple articles i read…virals change..they mutate, and become easier to spread..there is no RIGHT answer for ALL virals.
    Having dealt with several highly resistant bacteria, and having No antibiotic as a clear choice to be effective gave ME a different perspective. Knowing and having a large number of things that have certain properties for resistant “virals and bacteria”, was CRITICAL for my assistance to DM . Later for DH obtained a Hospital Acquired Pneumonia (HAP) from a hospital where they had good handwashing technique and also used anti bacterial gel.. so NO! they do not prevent all infection. Be prepared for that.!

  3. I also read to use an onion, in each room of your house if you have someone with the flu, when it was going around we did this exact thing and none of the four of us got sick, and my kid’s washed their hands, and took vitamins, each day to keep your immune system up. I also wash 2 loads of clothes every day until I don’t have anymore clothes, keeping your home wiped down with lysol wipes, and spray each door handle and light switch once a week, keeps germs down. I and the family don’t take the flu shot, just my opinion, we stay very healthy, we also eat more fruits during the winter too.

    • Staying healthy in general is a good prep. Good food and plenty of physical activity. In the country fresh is is one of the plusses. I seldom get sick but when I do Its harder now at 72 to regain strength. It seems the very young and the elders are most vulnerable.
      The article and comments are interesting. A friend was married to an RN when the last big flu epidemic was going around. She washed her hands, used sanitizer in frequently thouched places like door nobs. She still got the flu and was dead in less than 2 days. Her job made her vulnerable even with masks and sanitation.
      If you have a separate place for the sick folk you need to support just a limited group who will care for the sick. They need rest and food and good sanitation. I’m considering the purchase of a 10×12 insulated and sheetrocked shed. Its a repo. That’s why its finished inside. I want to make a summer bathhouse. Good for cleanup after summers dirty jobs. But with a little furnishing it could be a useable isolation ward. I planned on a toilet, small sink, soaking tub and separate shower, benches and wall hooks. But with careful arranging it could have two or three single camp cots. I plan a 3/4″ copper coil on the roof fed from a hose to a large barrel in the loft. Gravity fed hot water to water fixtures and water from a hose to cold water taps. Drain it all for winter. If used in winter it would need a different supply for water and a way to heat water. I have extra solar panels and inverters but would need a charge controller. I have 2, 50 amh batteries. That could supply a fan and lighting et. but heat for winter would have to be something more. Perhaps fabricate a gravity fed, small, pellet burning, rocket stove. I think of pellets because I use woodchips from branch clean up every year. I burn them in my rocket stove with a set on 1 bag sized hopper for pellets. I used a burn basket for the pellets or chips. For sticks and twigs the basket slides out. I might design a smaller version. I can cook and heat water on the one in our home.
      Its just the two of us here but a large family lives on the property. I help prep some things for everyone.
      I thank you for a project alternative to consider.

    • ShirlGirl,

      Maybe everyone knows this already, but I always refrigerate my Fishmox and Zithromycjn. It lasts years this way.

      Instead of Fishmox my doc gives me scripts for human azithromycin (Z Pack), amoxicillin or Ciprofloxacin or you can legally purchase it from All Day Chemist (
      I don’t refrigerate mine; but, you do need to keep it cool and dry. with dry being the potential problem in the fridge.


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