Survival Skill Preparedness – Influenza Pandemic


Some survival situations are hard to plan for.  A large scale influenza pandemic is such an event.  A pandemic is a very real possibility that every prepper should take seriously and plan for accordingly.  There are things you can do to help prepare yourself for such a disaster on top of your own emergency survival food and general survival gear planning.

First let’s look at some information about influenza pandemics.

An influenza pandemic occurs when a new virus strain emerges for which there is no immunity in humans and for which no vaccine is already in place.  Such a virus causes serious illness and eventually spreads very easily from one person to the next. The Twentieth Century saw three influenza pandemics, two of which were major in size.  The last major pandemic occurred in 1957 and killed nearly 70,000 people in the United States alone.  The major pandemic before that was much worse, occurred in 1918 and killed just over 650,000 people in the United States alone.  Imagine how much worse the 1918 pandemic could have been in today’s modern world of fast air travel, long distance commuting and global shipping.

Pandemic flu is different from the seasonal flu.  The seasonal flu occurs every year around the same season, usually in winter, and can be a reoccurring common strain that society has already had previous contact with and as such some immunity is already in place to keep the strain less deadly.  Seasonal flu vaccines can usually be obtained for what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes will be the three most active influenza viruses during the coming season.  A pandemic flu typically occurs only 2-3 times per century.  Because pandemics involve virus strains that are new, there is no previous exposure and as such no pre-existing built up immunity or vaccine.

Influenza viruses may be transmitted among humans three different ways: 1) by direct contact with infected individuals; 2) by having contact with contaminated objects such as toys, pencils, tools, counter-tops, mail, etc…; 3) by inhaling virus aerosol particles.  Most transmissions of viruses occur though the eyes, nose and mouth, and usually happen from our hands contacting those areas of our face.  That is why it is very important to wash your hands and try and keep them away from your face – doing so will help keep you from getting sick.  You often see people in China and Japan wearing N95 masks over their mouth and nose to protect themselves from methods of transmission of viruses, but the CDC has stated in their influenza transmission guidelines that there has not been any proof from studies that show such mask use protects health-care personnel from influenza transmissions.

Influenza Symptoms:  Similar to the seasonal flu, but usually worse.

  1. fever (usually high)
  2. body aches
  3. headache
  4. sore throat
  5. cough
  6. diarrhea and vomiting
  7. exhaustion

During pandemics health-care systems can become overwhelmed and unable to provide aid to everybody, leaving most people to fend for themselves in regards to their own treatment.  Also, available medical supplies such as antiviral drugs will be inadequate in the early stages of a pandemic, as demand would outstrip the available supply.  The same thing would happen once/if a vaccine is established, with there being limited vaccine amounts available early on.  You can also count on economic and social disruption for major pandemic outbreaks, such as public buildings being closed, travel bans, and people not showing up for work in order to take care of sick family members, or just being to afraid to leave their home.  With enough people not going to work, society could deteriorate faster than you believe.

So you may be asking yourself what you can do to prepare for such a survival situation.  In a truly bad global pandemic with hundreds of millions of people dying it may be safe to assume that society is going to fall.  In that case you may want to be prepared to get yourself and your family out of the cities and heading towards your survival retreat location.  If you don’t have a survival retreat, take the time to look up the topic on this blog to get a better understanding of what they are.  Once at your survival retreat keep yourself isolated and don’t let strangers come within twenty feet of your person.

Aside from shutting yourself away from society with the hopes of not getting sick, the next best thing you can do for yourself is keeping your physical health good and raise your immune system.  For instance, if you smoke, you should stop.  Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep.  Try to cut back on your stress.  Take vitamin supplements daily.  Get more exercise.  Eat healthier foods.  Loose weight if you need to.

Influenza usually kills through two primary ways; dehydration and congestion of the lungs.  To fight dehydration you should stock up on anti-diarrhea medicine and liquids that will help put electrolytes back in your system. To battle congestion buy a steam vaporizer and watch for any symptoms of pneumonia such as labored and painful breathing and coughing up brownish/red phlegm.  If battling pneumonia you do not want to use cough suppressants!  You must remove the congestion secretions from your body and coughing them up is the best way to day it.

To fight the fevers common with influenza stock up on fever reducer medicines such as Motrin or Tylenol.  Also remember that influenza is viral, not bacterial, so antibiotic drugs will not help.