Pandemic diseases have been in the news frequently in the past several years, especially two strains of influenza known as H1N1 and H5N1, the most likely to evolve into forms deadly to human beings. In fact, it was a mutated H1N1 virus that caused the great pandemic of 1918, one that proved fatal to millions around the world. However, there are other infectious diseases that give health officials and government leaders chronic insomnia. Two of the deadliest, and most likely disease agents, are smallpox and Ebola.
A pandemic is not a matter of “if” but rather a matter of “when”. No matter the actual causative organism, any pandemic would likely impact our global society in specific ways. The good news is, nearly any type of infectious disease can be contained, controlled and prevented using some common techniques.
Experts are quick to point out that a large-scale pandemic would overwhelm the health care delivery system rather quickly. Some mutated flu viruses such as H1N1 and H5N1 cause respiratory collapse in a large number of victims, making the use of respirators imperative in saving lives. Unfortunately, the total number of hospital respirators in the entire U.S. was approximately 100,000 only a few years ago, and most were in use for the treatment of acute medical conditions. During a flu pandemic, a triage system would be in place. If you’re elderly or suffer from a severe chronic disease, your chances of surviving a pandemic are minimal.
It’s rather obvious that the best way to survive is to avoid getting sick, and the easiest way to do that is to avoid the presence of sick people. The federal and state governments are likely to put quarantines in place, more politely called “social distancing” these days. These would be put into effect through a step-up system, starting perhaps with a ban on visitors to hospital rooms, escalating to school closures and ending with a moratorium on public gatherings until the pandemic had abated.
Basic survival steps for a family would include laying in a supply of over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, rehydration drinks like Gatorade and cough suppressants like Robitussin. Other good home-nursing items include a fever thermometer, rubbing alcohol, disposable tissues and toilet tissue. These are supportive care measures and are likely to benefit a patient more than antibiotics of little use in treating a viral disease.
A severe pandemic would likely cause disruptions in public utilities as workers become sick or stay home to nurse family members. For this reason, including alternate power options in a home preparedness plan is advisable. Deep-cycle batteries charged by a generator or running vehicle, solar panels, propane heaters and battery-operated lanterns and radios are all good additions to a preparedness plan.
Beefing up home entertainment and education options will be necessary. Paper and electronic books and games, movies and videos will keep everyone entertained during a prolonged period of social distancing.
Here is a quick video on Pandemic Survival Tips: