I have done a number of Blog Posts about the possibility of a flu pandemic but perhaps its time to talk about what you can do to protect your self if the worst happens. To protect yourself you must have an understanding of how the flu spreads.
What is a Pandemic?
Influenza or the flu as most of us call it can be spread several ways.
One is when an infected person sneezes mucus directly
into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person. Another is the airborne
route when someone inhales the droplets that contain the virus
produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing or spitting. And of
course the good old dirty hands that our Mothers warned us about is one
of the best ways to spread the flu
through hand-to-eye, hand-to-nose, or hand-to-mouth transmission, either
from contaminated surfaces or from direct personal contact such as a
So lets say you wake up one morning and you turn on the news only to
find that health authorities are saying they have an outbreak or
possibly a pandemic starting to spread around the world. What can you
do? Well the first and most obvious precaution is to simply isolate
yourself and your family from others as best as possible. Hopefully you
have your supplies stored and ready so you don't have to run to WalMart
and face all the possibly sick people. However if you do have to go out
for supplies you can take precautions to mitigate the risk.
What Should You Do to Protect Yourself?
full military biological warfare outfit would be great but if you are
the kind of person who has no supplies at home you probably don't have a
biological warfare outfit in your closet. However you can at least
dress in a way that will help lower the risk of catching the bug.
1. Cover your mouth and nose and eyes. A surgical mask or even a
workshop dust mask will help stop the larger droplets from infecting
you. Even something like a scarf or other cloth can lower the risk but
it needs to be tight to your face. Swim goggles can provide good eye
protection as they are tight fitting but any kind of large glasses are
better than nothing.
2. Gloves are extremely important. Surgical gloves may be best but rubber
kitchen gloves are not bad. Again anything is better than nothing so
even work gloves or driving gloves can help.
3. Dispose of or decontaminate your clothing. It wont do you any good if
you bring the bug home on your clothing so take it off outside and don't
take it in. Burn it or wash it with disinfectant. You could boil it if
you have the time. And don't forget that good old sunlight will often
kill the bugs so just hanging out in the hot sun for a few days will
4. Decontaminate yourself. Get a shower with lots of soap and hot water if
you can but even a cold shower is better than no shower. In fact you may
want to shower outside first if you can. If you have a pool or hot tub
take a dip in that. All the chemicals in the water will help.
5. Isolate yourself from the other members of your family if you can. If
its possible you should avoid contact as much as possible. Consider
living in the garage or the tool shed for a week or two. If you cant do
that then try to isolate your self in an extra room like the spare
6. Don't let your new supplies contaminate you. Wipe them off with
disinfectant before any one handles them with bare hands. If you cant
wipe them of remember that the bugs cant live on the surface of them for
long. So every day the supplies sit out in the open the safer they get
to touch. Two or three days will kill most viruses on most surfaces but
twenty days is best. If you must touch them use gloves and wash your
7. Isolate your family from each other. You cant tell if any one in your
house may be sick so its best if you can to have as little contact with
each other as possible. I know this could be hard or even impossible in a
survival situation but do the best you can. Avoid hugging, kissing and
hand holding. Disinfect doorhandles and any other commonly touched
surfaces as much as possible. Don't share eating or drinking utensils.
In other words run your house like a hospital. It wont be fun but it
could save your life.
Remember that people can have the flu and be spreading it to others and
yet not look sick themselves. People who contract influenza are most
infective between the second and third days after infection. Children are much more infectious than adults and shed virus from just
before they develop symptoms until two weeks after infection.
Contact with outsiders should be avoided. But one cant always avoid this
so if you are forced to have contact then you must decontaminate and
isolate yourself from your family after. Remember the virus could be
spreading in the air so stay as far away from outsiders as you can. No
one knows how far a virus can spread in the air outside but most experts
agree that if you stay 100 feet away from others when outside your
chances of being infected are low.