Most of the disasters that people prep for involve a threat that you can see and react to with some sense of confidence. Even societal collapse brought about by an economic freefall or government coup still generally presents its threat as other people. However, for an epidemic outbreak, people are only part of the problem.
Instead, this disaster poses a threat that is invisible to the naked eye and whose effects are likely only to be estimated by the time you are forced to respond to it. As such, while many of the tips to prepare for an epidemic are similar to bugging out in general, many are unique to this situation. That is why we have put together a list of the 7 steps to prepare yourself for an epidemic outbreak.
How to prepare for an epidemic outbreak
During the event of an epidemic, the single best thing you can do to help prevent catching a disease is to avoid other people entirely. Of course, many diseases have an incubation period, so it may be difficult to know whether a party member has been exposed and secretly harbors the disease awaiting its active phase. Still, you can at least ensure that you do not come in contact with people you do not know.
In this instance, bugging out is a decision you will have to make at the time. If you feel you can confidently get to your bug out shelter without unduly exposing yourself, then this is probably a good idea. However, it is important to keep in mind that your bug out vehicle is likely not suited to prevent the transmission of airborne disease. As such, simply assuming that because you stay in the vehicle you are safe is not a safe bet.
If you have a route to your bug out location that is traversable by vehicle and does not regularly come into contact with other people, then it may be an acceptable risk to take. If you live in a large city or even a densely populated suburbia, your best bet is to bug in, not out. Close and lock the doors, and do not let anyone inside your home without being able to verify their health.
The most common image that likely pops into someone’s head when you mention epidemic clothing is the Tyvek suit. These suits are used by medical professionals whenever they are trying to contain an epidemic including most recently with use during the Ebola epidemic. However, this is not the only clothing required. You will want to make sure you have a mask that is sealed and filters the air. If not the mask, they ensure you also have eye protection and always wear thick gloves made out of a non-porous material. When to wear the clothes may be another matter.
This can be a bit of a tricky call. While you may not necessarily need completely filtered and sealed clothing, it is likely a good idea to have as many sets around as you do party members plus one or two spares. If you are sure that everyone in your home is not infected, you should not simply walk around in this type of clothing. This ultimately exposes the protective clothing to more wear and tear and could potentially ruin them for when they are truly necessary.
Of course, if for any reason whatsoever you are forced to leave your home or bug out shelter, you and any party members accompanying you should be suited up and sealed tight. Chances are, a disease that can spread in an epidemic fashion will not be all that well-known and most reports will be estimations. As such, you cannot rely on reported cases of transmission, incubation, or survival rates and should instead play it safe.
This is at least one of the few areas where your general prepping should not only come in handy but remain relatively unchanged. The only preparatory difference might be in how well stocked you generally keep your home compared to other bug plans you have drawn up already. Remember, there is a good chance that you will not actually be bugging out and will instead need to bug in. This means that your home should be as well stocked as any other bug out shelter you might have.
While you likely have a large store of sealed foodstuffs, water becomes a bit trickier. This is because the first assumption with water when bugging in is to use the water from your tap if it still functions. However, this can be a trap, because the water coming from the tap may or may not be properly filtered to prevent the spread of infectious disease. This potential risk will apply to your standard filtration methods as well.
In this instance, you need to make sure that water has been pre-treated and filtered well before the epidemic broke out. You can ensure with stored of clean water or you will want to use the appropriate chlorine measures to purify your water. In this case, common household bleach can serve as an effective purifying agent. Just makes sure you are carefully measuring out the parts and mix in large batches to avoid potential issues.
When preparing a more generalized bug out plan that involves surviving some form of natural or manmade disaster, cleanliness is often seen as a necessity–but just so. While it is obviously important to ensure that parts of the body which remain covered in heated conditions–like your feet–as well as any open injury you might suffer remain clean, there is often less of an impetus placed on general cleanliness and especially environmental cleanliness.
During an epidemic, this paradigm gets turned on its head. Cleanliness is one of the best ways to ensure that you do not get sick. This works pretty much in every scenario, but especially during an epidemic. This means that both your bodies and the surfaces of your environment should be kept free from all bodily fluids and outdoor contaminants.
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While soap and water are mostly effective, they are generally only effective up to some percentage point. Instead, antiseptics that are designed explicitly to kill and break down all organic matter are preferred. For the surface areas, you will want to use a strong disinfectant. The two can technically substitute for one another in a pinch, but it is a better idea to keep both and use them for their intended purposes.
Just remember, antiseptics are used to disinfect the body. Disinfectants are used to disinfect non-living materials that are used for surfaces. If you must use a disinfectant to disinfect your body, be cautious. You need to rinse the disinfected area with clean, purified water afterward to prevent any negative reactions.
Simply not going outside or opening your door to random people is not enough. There is no guarantee that none of the infection can get into your house, especially if it starts or mutates to become airborne. As such, it is important that you both have a plan to keep your house sealed and mostly, if not completely, airtight. You will also need a method to filter and purify the air which will almost certainly have to come from outside.
Sealing your house can actually be accomplished fairly easily and with little financial investment. All you really need is duct tape and plenty of plastic drop cloths. Essentially, you will use the duct tape and plastic drop cloths to seal every opening in your home. This includes doors, windows, and even most of your vents. However, you will still need to leave at least one vent open to bring fresh air into your house.
If at all possible, it is a good idea to have a ventilation system that is separate from your normal ventilation system. This system should not be used except in case of this kind of an emergency. This system will be fitted with filters that are designed to purify the air from disease and other microorganisms. The system should only function to bring fresh air in and pump the exhausted breath of CO2 out.
Once you feel fairly comfortable that you have minimized your exposure and reliance on the outside as much as you can, you need to make sure that you have protocols in place in case the worst happens: the infection still manages to find its way into your home. The most likely cause that this could happen is if the infection has a relatively long incubation period. Also, one of your party members contracts it before you initiate the lockdown procedures.
The first step of a quarantine protocol is designating the place of quarantine. This should be a single room in your home that ideally has as few porous surfaces as possible. Carpet is an absolute no-no. Even painted walls may present issues depending on the type of paint used. Regardless the room used, you will want to lock it down in the same way that you did for the rest of the house’s points of egress.
Should the quarantine room become a necessary evil, make sure that a single person is designated as the member that interacts with those quarantined. There is no point in exposing more people to the risk of infection than is necessary. This individual should also have an infection suit used specifically for this purpose. One that is thoroughly disinfected after every use while it is still being worn, not after it has been taken off.
Nobody wants to think about the potential scenario where they themselves fall victim to an epidemic sweeping the nation or globe, but as a prepper, it is pretty much your job and responsibility to do so. While you have already developed the quarantine procedures for friends and family that are members of your party, have you considered how the party dynamic must shift and adapt to your absence?
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It is much easy to calmly and rationally make the decision that your next door neighbor must sweat it out in quarantine. You can hope that he is one of the lucky few to carry natural antibodies against the outbreak, but it is another situation entirely to place yourself in those shoes. The same logic and reason that you used to consign your infected neighbor to his fate will almost certainly be turned on its head in an effort to ensure your survival.
In this instance, it is important to be strong and follow the protocol that you laid forth for everyone else. Your mind will likely start to rationalize why you are not sick. It will be looking for any excuse or justification to believe that you do not need to be quarantined. However, even if you start to show symptoms that positively identify you as infected, there is a good chance that your mind will still search for rationalizations while you should not be quarantined and suffer the same fate you have likely seen others undergo.
One of the more pernicious rationalizations will be that your party needs your knowledge and survival skills. While this might make sense in a certain light, exposing them is far more risky than them having to make it alone. Moreover, you can plan ahead an make sure that one or more members of your party know all of your information and skills, either individually or collectively.
As we can see, preparing for an epidemic outbreak is similar to bugging in in many respects. In this way, an epidemic outbreak may be somewhat akin to how you would respond to a nuclear blast. Of course, the insidious nature of infectious pathogens definitely alters some of the steps you would normally take to ensure your survival.
The main takeaway should be:
- to avoid other people at all costs
- ensure that you are sealed, secure, and clean
- and no matter the situation develop a quarantine protocol and stick to it at all costs.
For more tips on how to prep for an epidemic and any number of different types of threats, check out our in-depth preppers guide at https://survivorsfortress.com/bug-out-bag-list-and-guide/.
This article has been written by Conrad Novak for Prepper’s Will.
Conrad Novak is a proud father of two children. His journey as a prepper began when Hurricane Katrina hit and he lost his job due to the 2008 economic crisis. That made him realize that everything can change for the worst in a very short time. This experience was the detonator for him to pursue learning and becoming better prepared to face the kind of unexpected disasters that may occur at any point in our lives. You can read more of his content at SurvivorsFortress.com