For years we had to put up with the inconveniences and agony caused by the current pandemic. So, what have we learnt? And how can we be better prepared for the next one? What if the next one will be much, much worse?
What we do know is preparing for a pandemic (and surviving it) is unlike preparing for a natural disaster where electricity and water supplies may be non-functional. Fortunately, recent experiences have taught us a lot about what to stockpile for such an event.
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A Destructive Pandemic May Very Well Be on the Way…
You have to admit, we’ve all had a relatively mild time starting 2020… Can you imagine if the Ebola virus with its 50% death rate had spread worldwide?
Those of you interested in history will know that the figures suggest 30 to 60% of the population died during the Black Death – Bubonic plague, during the middles ages, and recurrences later in the 1600’s in Britain.
Systems in the cities and towns affected broke down as there were not enough people who were physically capable of burying the dead, or caring for the sick.
Many of those who survived isolated themselves totally, in monasteries or hidden places deep in the woods or forests, away from towns. They were absolutely rigid in avoiding all contact, sustaining themselves with what they could grow or hunt.
What we know for sure is that there will be more pandemics. Government organizations, scientists, and health professionals are making sure they will be prepared. What we don’t know is when the next pandemic will be, or how destructive.
This last one caught many individuals, organizations, and governments off-guard with the sheer scale involved in covering all aspects of preparedness.
One tends to think of the basics, but when supply chain systems are compromised, items a person wouldn’t really consider immediately can be in short supply.
Make sure you have stored enough to have food and water available for at least a month. It is quite daunting to realize just how much a family of four can consume in one week, let alone four!
In good times, supermarket shelves are laden with goods, but we have all seen in the past two years how quickly those shelves could be decimated by panic buying.
So, while the going is good, stock up so you don’t put yourself at risk when the bad times come.
Many people don’t have room at their home or apartment, so will store in a relative’s garage or root cellar, or even in bug out locations, but that is of little help if you are in a lockdown and cannot travel.
The supplies needs to be near enough for you to access them easily. This makes supply storage totally different from storage for disasters like hurricanes or floods, where supplies are often stored off location in case you have to evacuate.
What You’ll Need for the Next Pandemic
1. Lots of Water
One gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day will take care of drinking and essential needs. Focus on enough pure water stored in your own containers, or bottled water.
You are likely to have running water in a pandemic as essential services should continue, but in case of unforeseen interruptions to supply, have enough fresh water on hand.
You can add a filtration system to your tap water if you don’t already have one. In the worst case scenario of a natural disaster happening at the same time as a pandemic, water purification tablets are a wise option.
2. Comfort Drinks
Choose to stock up only on what your family really enjoys. Warm drinks like coffee, tea and hot chocolate will make life more bearable in a pandemic, especially in cold weather. In summer fruit cordials and other soft drinks will go down well.
And, since time stops for no-one, there are bound to be birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebratory events during a pandemic so having some non-alcoholic beers or wines and alcoholic drinks, while not essential, will be enjoyable once in a while.
3. Long Shelf-Life Food
Make an inventory of what you buy for weekly grocery shop and multiply x 4 to have enough supplies to last for a month. Make sure you also do store some products with a long shelf life just in case the pandemic involves longer periods of isolation.
Canned foods, dried foods, rice, pasta and more all have long shelf lives.
In any pandemic hygiene is really important in keeping your family safe. Stock up items like bleach, which can be added to drinking water in a pinch, and other disinfecting products to keep your home clean and germ free.
Soap and water are just as effective as alcohol based sanitizer, so there is no need to buy dozens of bottles of hand sanitizer.
5. Toilet Paper
In 2020 when stores shelves were emptied and toilet rolls rationed, fights erupted in supermarket aisles as people wrestled for this basic commodity.
Then the tissues and paper towel stocks started running low in supermarkets as people turned to alternatives.
Make sure you always have plenty of toilet paper, tissues and paper towels in stock and are aware of how much your family uses per week, so you can calculate how much to store accurately.
The average has been suggested at 3 rolls per person per week, but then brands differ in size and quality – so just get more than you think you’ll need.
6. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
This pandemic there has been a lot of focus insistence on mask wearing, yet the virus has still spread. There are various schools of thought on mask-wearing, but it is probably a good idea to stock up on some masks if you are going out.
While disposable gloves were advised, it has been mentioned that they just transfer germs from once place to another and good handwashing techniques are probably more effective.
What PPE you choose is up to you. Be guided closer to the time by health officials, as each pandemic is different.
7. Personal Medication and Equipment
People have different needs when it comes to medications, and we aren’t going to try and cover them here. You know what allergies your family may have.
Some families may have no allergies or food intolerances – you’re the lucky ones as you won’t need things like Epipens for allergic reactions, or asthma inhalers.
Some people may be on prescribed medication, or need blood pressure monitoring equipment, and these should be kept on hand with at least a month’s extra supply of prescribed meds.
Medication for diarrhea and electrolyte fluids like Gatorade and Pedialyte are advisable for families with young children, as well as making sure the home first aid kit is topped up with ointments for minor insect bites and stings, pain relief medication, cough and cold remedies, as well as medication for fever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.
A thermometer and wound cleaning liquid as well as bandages should all be in place, because life happens and people will still get bumps and scrapes, but there is no need to stockpile vast quantities. After all, how often do you use the home first aid kit in a month?
8. Hygiene Supplies
Keep enough personal supplies to get the family through a month should you not be able to get to the shops, or the supermarket shelves are empty. These personal items will include sufficient diapers for babies, toddlers and the elderly who need them.
Chances are your personal toiletries will last through a month, but if they are running low make sure you have purchased back-ups for basics like deodorant, shower gel, and the like.
People who wear spectacles and contact lens wearers would usually have either a back-up pair of spectacles and sufficient contact lenses in case they lose one, as well as the cleaning solution for lenses.
If you don’t have these you don’t want to be walking around with your hands out in front of you because you can’t see where you are going, so make sure you have back-ups.
9. Pet Supplies
When you are stuck at home so are your pets. Make sure they have enough medication and food to get them through.
Your pet may not need special medication, but will probably need tick and flea medication as well as deworming tablets, because those parasites take no holidays.
10. Boredom Busters
Being inside during a pandemic with limited access to outside activities can drive people crazy, and this often manifests in aggression.
Have games on hand where adults and kids can do physical activities in limited space to release tension. Stockpile printer paper to download activity pages for kids. Stock up on water based paints, brushes, crayons, pencil and markers.
In 2020, some enterprising people made fortunes by providing activity kits for kids that could be ordered online and delivered to the doorstep.
The secret to keeping kids busy is to be able to bring out something “new” for them at intervals during the pandemic, even if it is just a joke book. If your stockpile of activities is sitting in plain view they will not be interested.
Ready to Stockpile?
In preparation for the next pandemic, you have to think carefully about what your family likes and dislikes rather than following another prepper’s list.
Everyone has different needs – some may be vegetarian or vegan, others may have allergies, while others may simply not like certain food items or drinks.
Some families thrive on physical activity, and will need lots of game equipment. Others may be more sedentary, and will rely on online gaming and movies as well as social media for a sense of connection.
If you think there is something you have found to be useful that should be added to the list then please let us know in the comment section below, and we will update.
Feel free to share this list – the more people who contribute suggestions of what worked for them, the better we will all fare in the next pandemic.
Traveler, photographer, writer. I’m eternally curious, in love with the natural world. How people can survive in harmony with nature has fueled my food safety and survival gardening practices.
At the age of 12, I found a newspaper advertisement for a 155-acre farm at a really good price and showed my parents one Sunday morning. They bought it and I happily started planting vegetables, peanuts, maize and keeping bees with the help of the local labor.
Once I married wherever we moved it was all about planting food, keeping chickens and ducks, permaculture and creating micro-climates. I learned how to build wooden cabins and outdoor furniture from pallets, and baked and cooked home-grown produce, developing recipes as I went along.