Viral Pandemics - Thoughts and Preps- Part I

A Little Perspective

Viral Pandemics are rare and of little threat.  “What?! How can you SAY that!” Well, it’s true. Depending on sources, the Ebola deaths in Africa number between 4,000 and 10,000 from March to October of this year. Keep in mind, the response to the outbreak was slowed for the first three months, giving the bug free reign to kill at will. This year, in the US alone, 90,000+ people will die just from mistakes made by medical professionals in hospitals. 90K screw-ups! If a terrorist group could accomplish that, we’d never hear the end of it. Numbers for other deaths are even larger. From the CDC’s web site, the Leading Causes of Death for 2010 are:

  • Heart disease: 596,577
  • Cancer: 576,691
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 142,943
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,932
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 126,438
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 84,974
  • Diabetes: 73,831
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,826
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 45,591
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 39,518

Take the top four causes, add them together and you get 1,445,143. That’s right, almost a million and a half deaths annually. For Ebola deaths to match that, they would have to multiply by 1,500X.  Take the involved African countries and begin adding the total deaths on top of each other (at the extreme count, remember, not the official 4,000-ish number) one thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine times. Get the picture? Get my point?

The chances of you dying of other than Ebola causes based on the total of  the top TEN causes of death are 1,869,321 to 1.

Of course, if you happen to “win” that particular lottery, you’re not going to care much about the odds that you just beat. You’re going to care about the next set of odds you have to beat. But once again, I have to place a little perspective on that and say that you are very likely to survive an infection here in the States because you are also very likely to get excellent treatment early. Ebola is beatable if the virus’ multiplication is slowed long enough for your immune system to recognize it, and if the cytokine storm response can be tempered enough that it doesn’t blow your cell walls apart.

The Fly in the Ebola Ointment

Unfortunately, we have an extra layer of concern regarding the Ebola issue. It is a stated goal of terrorist organizations such as ISIS /ISIL (*spit*) and Al Qaeda (*stoop and puke*) to introduce this bug into our lives. I wrote about how they might accomplish this in Ebola Virus as a Terrorist Weapon in the United States. Assuming that these evil bastards are successful, we will have a serious pandemic problem on our hands.  If we blot out the media noise of specific mechanisms of widespread population infection, we hear a general Ebola buzz growing….

Protecting Yourself with “Ebola Kits!”

Ebola Virus Atacking a Cell Wall

Ebola RNA Attack

The buzz is loud at many “prepper” sites selling “Ebola Kits”. Some Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits even have CDC approved components. If you spend much time comparing them, you will notice a wide selection of items in these kits, with some obvious differences. Sometimes, this is true among various kits found on just one site! How do you know what is worth your time and money?

Determining what is best requires knowledge of what makes a complete kit. Overalls, mask, filters, gloves, foot coverings, tape and more work together to create a complete barrier between you and the biological threat. Some kits have a lot of what you might want, but not everything. Other kits go way overboard. Because of this, I believe it’s best to look at what it truly needed, and then buy your own items. Doing this allows you to not only chose the type of item, but the quantities. Your kit, and the money spent on it, should reflect actual needs and extra concerns specific to your situation.

Most kits include an item you may very well regret using if you are face to face with the Ebola bug. Most sellers supply you with N-95 masks of various types. Some are loose-fitting with elastic over-the-ears bands, and others are more form-fitting and include an exhalation valve. What isn’t told you is that a P-100 mask, or even a full face respirator with dual P-100 filters is far superior. You should retain the option of buying as many masks or filters as you need – separate from the kit. The same flexibility applies to other disposable items such as foot wear coverings and gloves. I can’t think of an offering I’ve seen that allows you to upgrade your masks.

So, most kits will get you started, but then leave you there – at the start.

It is because of the component inflexibility I’ve seen, that I recommend building your own. It takes a bit more work and a little study, but you would need to study the use of a kit’s contents anyway, in order to successfully employ it. You also need to know just how far the contents go, and even more, just how long they need to go in order to get you through the event. (Ebola quarantines ruin from 21 to 28 days, depending, with some newer reviews of older studies suggesting a revised standard of 60 -90 days.)

Setting yourself up to get through a wild viral pandemic of any contagion might include the ability to move through public places where the bug is concentrated (such as hospitals, pharmacies and drug stores). It may require you to treat a family member in your home, within the safety of an isolation room or outbuilding. Public travel limitations may restrict you to an area where the bug is especially active. If an area quarantine is in effect, you may be forced to spend a lot of time in a neighborhood with sick individuals – choosing to stay in your home while the bug runs its course outside. PPE, disinfectant, water and food preps, antiseptic routines, personal hygiene, general sanitation, building pressurization and other concerns need to be addressed if you are to build a kit that is adequate. The prepared kits will get you through a physical area once, but are unlikely to protect you long term.

What I will be Writing About

This series pre-empts others in the works, not just because we might be hit with a vicious evil bio-weapon, but because there is so much out there that is not written actually to deal with the bug, but to serve as cash-generating machines. The topics I will cover are:

  • What Might Happen During a Pandemic Event
  • Building your Personal Pandemic PPE Kit
  • Supply List – Food and Water
  • Supply List – Entertainment
  • Sick Room /Isolation Room
  • Preparation /Decontamination Room
  • Day-to-Day Practices
  • Disinfectants and Antiseptics
  • Ebola Description and Construction
  • CDC Information on Alcohol and Chlorhexidine-based Antiseptics

The current craze, which drives the current fad, is Ebola. But Ebola isn’t the only bug you might meet. There are other flus that have made the news the last few years. Of them, China’s H7N9 appears to be the biggest hitter, sparking a massive trans-Pacific preparatory response from the Feds in late 2013. Enterovirus D68 came up along with illegal immigrant children from Central America. H1N1 and H5N1 still come up on the Federal radar screen. Compiling kits for yourself and your family members will be difficult after a major event occurs, or after a major health announcement is made. If you feel that a pandemic is possible, you need to accept that getting hold of the prep side of the equation is a necessity. Fortunately, getting set for one bug takes care of the rest, satisfying the Three-fer Rule.

What Might Happen During a Pandemic Event

IF, and it’s a big if, a pandemic emergency develops, you can expect many changes that will affect your life.

  • Travel restrictions for individuals and all but necessary commercial transport of food, medicine and emergency infrastructure support
  • Interrupted commerce, or locally shuttered business with reduced access to supplies or even employment
  • Slowed emergency services response increase dangers from criminals, fire and non-pandemic related personal health emergencies
  • Reduced care and increased wait times at hospitals and clinics due to employee fears or quarantines
  • Closed schools, malls, sports facilities, tourist attractions and places of worship
  • Officially designated quarantines on regional, local and personal levels create widespread fear, uncertainty and concern

What this all means is that predicting the normalcy level of your routine activities will be near impossible. Travel restrictions will affect populations in ways that are directly related to their need to move about for important activities. The further one is away from busy city life, the better. Rural areas, with their self reliant lifestyles will fare better than cities and suburbs.

Key to our daily lives is the availability of routine services such as electricity, water, natural gas and emergency responses. Any important service that relies on attendant manpower will be subject to failure. Pandemic effects will sicken some and kill others, scare many away from work or result in temporary work force reductions due to quarantines. These are all things beyond our control unless we take steps ahead of time to reduce or eliminate their impacts.

Right off the top of my head, I can say that the following would be beneficial:

  • Stored water and food for 3 months, along with food prep items and water purification /filtration
  • Heat generating ability stocked up (topped-off propane, stacked wood or electric /propane heaters)
  • Electrical generator, and perhaps a back up generator
  • Self defense equipment and knowledge

Whatever you can imagine being taken away from you should be a point of study for your preparations.


Part II of this series will cover the building your own PPE Kit, supplies, quarantine /treatment and daily practices.

Part III will cover the killing of free Ebola particles with various chemicals and devices, and some basic details about the bug itself.


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