MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) were born on Earth, but grew up on Apollo flights to the moon, in Skylab floating workshops and on every U.S. Space Shuttle flight from Enterprise to Atlantis. In the 1970s retort pouches (the popular name for thermo stabilized, laminated food pouches named after the retort cooker) were put to their first real test by the U.S. Space Program. The Program was looking for delicious, easy to prepare, “normal” food that wouldn’t increase human stress the way that freezes dried food and “toothpaste tube food” did. More than any other technology, retort pouches have satisfied the Program’s needs. And so, over 20 years ago, retort pouches found a home at NASA, where all their unusual characteristics were much appreciated and they have been successfully feeding astronauts in flight and on the moon ever since.
One of the first types of livestock which many homesteaders undertake raising is the chicken. There is certainly no other species of animal more suited nor more beneficial to the homestead than the chicken. Meat, eggs, fertilizer, waste disposal, and pest control are among the qualities of the home flock. Chickens are generally grouped into three types: meat birds, layers, and dual purpose breeds. When we started out in the poultry business, so to speak, we knew that we wanted dual purpose breeds— ones that would be good eating birds and good layers of brown eggs. Selecting the types of chickens you are going to order is not as easy as it sounds. Out of all the feathered makes and models available, we settled on a dozen each of Silver-laced Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpingtons. We knew that we wanted birds of the heavy breeds, for we were planning to butcher about two-thirds of them, then keep the rest as a small laying flock. We ordered straight run birds. That means that the birds are not sexed, but boxed and shipped just as they come from the incubators. Since we would be butchering most of the birds, anyway, we felt that there should be plenty of layers to pick from for the laying flock. They’re cheaper when ordered this way, too, You have a few other choices in acquiring your birds. In the spring, many feed mills or farmer’s co-ops offer low priced chicks when you buy 50 or 100 pounds of chick starter feed. The selection of breeds is generally somewhat limited with these offers, but they can be a good way to get your starter flock. Be sure, however, that before you take advantage of these deals to find out whether you are get- ting meat birds or laying breeds.
The luster of the waxing moon illuminated our winter playground like a baseball diamond under the lights. Dinner, which had been in the works since we pitched camp, could wait while we had fun. We poured the hot chocolate into a Thermos, wrapped the pot of cooked rice in fleece and stuffed it into a sleeping bag to stay warm, then grabbed our skis. As we showed off our best telemark turns, the main course defrosted in my pocket.
We returned to camp exhilarated and downright starving. Sips of the still-steaming hot chocolate melted the ice off my handlebar mustache while I finished making dinner. From the “oven”-my coat pocket-came a beautiful chunk of sushi-grade ahi tuna. I sliced it quickly and whipped up sushi rolls and instant hot-and-sour soup. A sushi bar in the middle of Washington’s Mt. Baker Wilderness-who’d have thought?
That’s what I love about winter camping. You can eat food, lots of food, that would spoil in summer. Think about it: You’re hiking in a big freezer, so take advantage of it. Pack in zesty ground beef to spice up bean burritos. Breakfast comes complete with sausage links. You can even carry along a smoked turkey breast, instant stuffing, and gravy that tastes as good as Thanksgiving dinner.
Actually, you need this variety so you’ll consume enough calories to power you through days of carrying a heavy pack in cold conditions. Here are some menu suggestions.
Hydroponic systems come in all shapes and sizes. You are really only limited by your imagination. Here are a few of the basic types of hydroponic systems to consider when you start thinking about using this method for your next garden
HYDROPONICS, THE BASICS
The most important thing for you is to realise is that Hydroponics should be easy. It is easier for the home grower to grow Hydroponically than in soil and that’s a fact! This is the reason for this booklet. In this booklet I hope to show you how easy, how inexpensive, and how satisfying Hydroponics is. Simply there is no easier way to grow, house plants, ornamental plants, vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, beans, fruit, root crops such as potatoes, carrots, onions, flowers such as roses and carnations, bulbs, vines, trees, orchids, herbs, anything in Hydroponics. To my knowledge, there is nothing that is grown that cannot be grown using hydroponic techniques. In Europe they call Hydroponics, “soil-less culture”. This is in fact, the best possible way to describe what we do. We take away the nutritional control of soil, by using a balanced liquid containing 99.9% water, and 0.1% of the Minerals found in soil. Instead of soil giving out some nutrient whenever it can, Hydroponics gives the right amount all the time. Hydroponic nutrient is totally organic (in terms of not artificial or synthetic compounds), except the minerals are mined from the ground and are then balanced to exact proportions, so your plant will get exactly what they need, nothing more, and certainly nothing less! In fact if we could take the perfect soil and dissolve it, we would have exactly what a nutrient solution is, totally natural, but under your control.
Preserving meat requires energy to be expended. Very simple concept. It is the method of using that energy that is of interest to us. The use of electrical energy via freezing is the most common form of meat preservation today — and the most fragile, as we can expect the electrical grid to go down at some point in the near future. So, what else can we do to preserve meat?
All other methods of preserving meat also require the use of energy — principally yours! Some methods are easier than others, but make up for that by using another energy source than electricity. Canning meats requires jars and lids and a heat source. Those are medium-technology items, however, and may not be available deep into a crisis.
The most primitive method of meat preservation — and the most dependable — requires a lot of human energy. These would be smoking, making jerky, and making pemmican.
October 18th FEMA will be conducting The Great Southeast Shakeout. This is an earthquake preparedness drill.
During National Preparedness Month, many people are looking for ways to get involved in preparedness. In addition to creating your family emergency plan and getting a kit, I encourage your family, office, and community to participate in the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill, coming up on October 20 at 10:20 a.m. Pacific Time.
FEMA is hosting a webinar on the ShakeOut tomorrow at 2pm EST that will help participants understand what the ShakeOut is and how to participate. A recording of the webinar will be available in the webinar library.
The ShakeOut provides a tangible way to participate in preparedness by focusing on the potentially life-saving actions of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during and immediately after an earthquake. The recent earthquake on the East Coast shows that earthquakes can happen practically anytime, anywhere, so I encourage you to participate even if you don’t live in California.
To join, go to www.ShakeOut.org/register and pledge your family, school, business, or organization’s participation in the drill. It’s free to sign up, and registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill and how to talk with others about earthquake preparedness.
I hope you will join us in making the 2011 ShakeOut drill the largest preparedness event in U.S. history and join the 7.6 million people that have already signed up to participate.
While the Great California ShakeOut is coming up in less than a month, planning for other ShakeOut events is already underway. You may remember the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut from earlier this year, where over 3 million people across 11 states practiced earthquake safety. Here’s a look at the upcoming ShakeOut events:
- October 20, 2011: California, Oregon, Nevada, Guam
- February 7, 2012: Central United States – Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas
- April 17, 2012: Utah
If your state does not have its own ShakeOut, you can plan to drill on one of the dates above – anyone can participate!
MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) were born on Earth, but grew up on Apollo flights to the moon, in Skylab floating workshops and on every
U.S. Space Shuttle flight from Enterprise to Atlantis. In the
1970s retort pouches (the popular name for thermostabilized, laminated food pouches named after the retort cooker ) were put to their
first real test by the U.S. Space Program. The Program was looking for delicious, easy to prepare, “normal” food that wouldn’t
increase human stress the way that freeze dried food and “toothpaste tube food” did. More than any other technology, retort pouches
have satisfied the Program’s needs. And so, over 20 years ago,
retort pouches found a home at NASA, where all their unusual characteristics were much appreciated and they have been successfully feeding
astronauts in flight and on the moon ever since.
THE HISTORY OF THE MRE
In the 1980s the U.S. military research labs, which had hatched the pouch technology in the first place, took the lead in its
use and development. They enabled the U.S. Military to upgrade its entire field ration program to retort pouches, from the earlier, less workable technologies of canning and freeze drying. Over the past 10 years these high tech research labs have continually upgraded the taste and nutritional profile of the meals. Over
the past 10 years our military has depended on MREs for its field ration requirements. Tens of millions of MRE “full meals”
have been produced and eaten. They have gone to Grenada, to the war on drugs, to fight forest fires in Alaska, and to feed the troops in “Desert Shield” and Desert Storm.
Drying is the oldest method of preserving food. The early American settlers dried foods such as corn, apple slices, currants, grapes, and meat. Compared with other methods, drying is quite simple. In fact, you may already have most of the equipment on hand. Dried foods keep well because the moisture content is so low that spoilage organisms cannot grow. Drying will never replace canning and freezing because these methods do a better job of retaining the taste, appearance, and nutritive value of fresh food. But drying is an excellent way to preserve foods that can add variety to meals and provide delicious, nutritious snacks. One of the biggest advantages of dried foods is that they take much less storage space than canned or frozen foods.
Although this document is somewhat speculative in nature, it contains a variety of pragmatic cautionary statements, health advisories, and domestic survival tips that have been derived from authoritative scientific and empirical sources. Ordinarily, I would provide an appropriate footnote citation whenever I state a fact that is not con- sidered general knowledge within a particular field of study; however, time constraints and confidentiality issues have not permitted that particular academic exercise.
You will notice that this document tends to focus primarily on how to prepare for, and cope with, the economic impact of an influenza pandemic. Certainly, the impending pandemic provided the initial motivation for this writing, but the need for personal self-sufficiency is certainly not restricted to pandemics. Indeed, most of the advice in this document could be adapted to a variety of situations in which the production or distribution of goods and services becomes disrupted for more than a day or two. Con- sidering how vulnerable we are to disasters, both natural and man-made, and consid- ering that each disaster may have economic consequences that could affect your fam- ily’s well-being, it simply makes good sense for every household to prepare to be self- sufficient for a certain duration of time. The greater the level of self-sufficiency you can achieve right now, the lower the impact of an economic disruption or emergency.
THE PANDEMIC SCENARIO
There are 144 known strains of avian influenza. H5N1 is merely one of them, and many more strains of flu come from mammals, such as pigs, horses, and monkeys. Historically, the global flu pandemic rate is at least three per century (there were 10 recorded pandemics in the last 300 years), so it is really not a matter of if the next pandemic will occur, it is simply a matter of when. Do bear in mind that this particu- lar strain of flu is not like an ordinary seasonal flu that affects us during the winter months, killing an average of 36,000 Americans each year. H5N1 is much deadlier, both to birds and to humans. As of today, June 17th, 2007, the mortality rate in hu- mans has reached 75%. The H5N1 virus has killed birds in at least 56 countries and it has killed humans in at least 11 countries. It has also evolved into at least 6 distinct sub-strains, or clades, each of which has infected and killed human beings.
Unfortunately, no vaccine can be developed until the genetic material of H5N1 evolves, or reassorts, into a clade that can be readily transmitted from human to hu- man. Even then, after a vaccine is successfully produced (a process that takes about six months from start to finish), it will not be immediately available to the general public. Since global flu vaccine production capability is only about 500 million courses per year, the first several million will undoubtedly be distributed exclusively to politi-cal leaders, military personnel, and civilians who hold mission-critical jobs in such fields as medicine, law enforcement, and public utilities. Therefore, you might not be able to vaccinate your family until after the pandemic has passed. To complicate mat- ters, Tamiflu, the drug that is given to patients with severe flu, is difficult to obtain and is not effective unless it is administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. So, get your Tamiflu A.S.A.P. After the pandemic starts it will be too late.
When H5N1 does eventually evolve into a clade that is easily transmitted from person to person, it is expected to lose some of its lethality, but it could still be far deadlier than any flu the world has ever experienced. Many epidemiologists estimate that 50% of the global population will become sick with the flu and that 10% of the flu patients will die. This would result in 300 million deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, that would be approximately 15 million deaths. Even if only 33% of Americans become ill and only 1% die, that would still be a loss of 1 million people. Although nobody can predict when the H5N1 virus will finally give rise to a severe pandemic, the World Health Organization believes that it is just a matter of time. This is be- cause migrating birds continue to spread the virus to domesticated birds, and because there are millions of people all around the world (including the U.S.A.) who live in close proximity to domesticated birds. These factors create a recipe for disaster, since it gives the virus numerous opportunities to perform the genetic reassortments neces- sarily for effective human to human transmission.
In addition to the risk from infected birds, there is a growing concern over H5N1’s potential to infect a variety of mammals–not just humans. There are confirmed cases of dogs and cats, both feral and domesticated, that have died of H5N1. The reports about cats is especially disturbing because cats have never had flu before. So, if it is true that the virus is capable of spreading to a variety of mammals, this could indicate that the much-feared genetic reassortments are taking place and that human to hu- man transmission is now inevitable. You should also bear in mind that thousands of people have died from “flu-like” illnesses, but were never tested for H5N1, and there are cases that were confirmed post mortem, but did not test positive initially; there- fore, it is impossible to know just how far this flu has already spread.
The infection and death rates from the 1918 “Spanish Flu” suggest that over the course of a severe pandemic lasting several months, at least 33% of the global popula- tion will eventually become ill with the flu. Therefore, we could expect that H5N1 will make one-third of the world’s labor force too sick to work for at least two weeks per person. In addition to the hours lost to employee illness, the global labor force could certainly suffer from an indefinite period of voluntary absenteeism, as healthy people begin to practice “social distancing” in an attempt to avoid contact with those who may be infected. There could also be a substantial number of otherwise healthy workers who must remain at home for weeks or months to care for sick family members; and, if schools and day-care centers are obliged to close their doors, a lot of working parents would have no choice but to remain at home with their children indefinitely.
Beyond these temporary labor problems, substantial as they may be, it is likely that at least 100 million workers around the world will die from the next flu pandemic, in- cluding thousands of people who hold jobs that affect your family’s lifestyle. The net result of this labor force reduction will certainly be felt in long-term disruptions in the production and distribution of such basics as food, medicine, utilities, and public ser- vices. Therefore, when any such disruptions do occur, you will certainly want your family to be prepared with the resources and knowledge for coping as comfortably as possible for as long as necessary. How long is really necessary? If we are really lucky, it could be only a few weeks, but it will probably be several months.
Although in a typical flu patient the very worst symptoms may come and go within a matter of a few days, it could take many weeks for the flu to make its way through an entire community–and that is just for the first wave. Flu pandemics typically occur in two or three global waves, stretched out over a year or more. Consequently, people who did not become sick from the first wave would still be at risk of getting the flu during any subsequent waves. It is important to note that a pandemic wave does not have a clearly defined beginning or end. A wave is merely a period of time during which a whole lot of people become sick more or less simultaneously. Between waves, however, many people will still be recovering and more people will become sick. Un- fortunately, it is the human interaction between the waves that is largely responsible for generating subsequent waves. You see, as flu cases diminish, people will let down their guard and begin to return to their old routines, even though the flu is still pre- sent in their communities. This unguarded behavior is what tends to cause the next wave. In addition, the virus may continue to mutate, possibly acquiring the ability to reinfect and kill people who had previously survived it.
Since there will be no time period during the pandemic in which it will be completely safe to expose yourself to others, the only sure-fire way to prevent infection will be to isolate your family in your home and wait it out; and, since each wave could easily last two or three months in any given community, with a month-long recovery period after each wave, you might feel compelled to isolate your family for one full year. While you may not find it absolutely necessary to completely withdraw from society for such a long time, you may have to cope with several months of economic disruptions during the pandemic and several more months of disruption afterward. Even conservative pandemic predictions assume that most communities will experience limited availabil- ity of commodities and services for at least a couple of weeks. Mainstream predictions, however, assume that there will be varying degrees of nation-wide economic disruption lasting several months which will only become worse as time goes by. These disrup- tions will be followed by a lingering global recession lasting over a year.
Although it is improbable that any town in the United States would have to cope with a total and simultaneous collapse in the distribution of food, medicine, utilities, and public services for more than a few weeks at a time, it is highly likely that every com- munity will have to adjust to sporadic and repeated disruptions over a period of sev- eral months. Some disruptions may be intermittent, but some may linger for quite a while. However, since you can not know in advance which goods or services will be unavailable in your town, or for how long you might have to get by without them, it would be prudent to prepare for complete and total independence and self-sufficiency within your own home for the minimum duration of a global pandemic, which is esti- mated to be at least six months. That level of preparation would reduce the impact of the disruptions and would provide a great measure of comfort for your entire family.
FOOD FOR SIX MONTHS
Now, before you challenge the need to methodically amass a six month supply of food, ask yourself just how long you think you can survive on the food you have right now. Then ask yourself which food items in your kitchen you can easily do without and which items you would really like to have on a regular basis. For example, if you could not purchase milk or bread for a week or two, how would that affect your family? What if you could not purchase milk or bread for several weeks? What if the prospect of going to a grocery store was too risky to even consider? Food shortages should be anticipated, but even if there were plenty of groceries on the store shelves, during a pandemic you would want to avoid close contact with others, so going to a grocery store might pose an unacceptable health risk, both to you and the folks back home.
Consider this: you could physically distance yourself from others and dress appropri- ately, wearing an N100 respirator and nitrile gloves while shopping, yet the possibility exists that you will unknowingly bring the flu virus home from the market. It could be on your groceries. This is because the items in your grocery bags were handled by humans, and in a severe pandemic at least 33% of those humans will eventually get the flu. By the way, an infected person can spread the flu a day or two before symp- toms appear, so how would you know if sick shopper or a soon-to-be-sick retail clerk coughed or sneezed on one your grocery items before you arrived? Simply put, you can not know, and since the influenza virus can easily survive on the exterior of a package for 48 hours or more, you would be compelled to sanitize or quarantine everything you bought before bringing it into your home. Clearly, at some point in time shopping will be an activity to avoid until long after the pandemic has passed, so you need to get busy right now and begin stocking up. Here is a practical way of going about it:
♦ Set a caloric goal for your household that is based upon the basal metabolic rate and anticipated energy expenditure of each person. For example, an active family of four, with a combined weight of 570 pounds, will need 1,460,000 calories for six months. This caloric goal assumes that each person will burn 14 calories per day per pound of body weight. However, to merely maintain any given weight, a sed- entary person will only need about 11 calories per day per pound of body weight. So, a sedentary family of four that has a combined weight of 570 pounds will only require 1,144,000 calories for a six month period of time. Just for reference, both the United Nations and the World Health Organization have based
their emer- gency food rations on a 2,100 calorie per day diet, but this assumes physical labor.
♦ Develop and maintain a food storage shopping list or inventory sheet that will help you focus on buying products that contribute to your nutritional goals.
♦ Be sure that you can provide each person with 25 to 30 grams of fiber and 50 to 70 grams of protein per day. Try not to worry too much about fats and carbohydrates. If you are careful about the calories you consume, they will all get burned up any- way. Instead, try to stock up on foods you will actually eat.
♦ Establish a deadline for purchasing your emergency food and stick with it by buy- ing at least an extra week’s worth of groceries every time you shop.
♦ Stock up heavily on foods that are part of your normal diet, but which require no refrigeration and are easy to prepare without the aid of modern appliances.
♦ Check the expiration date of each item before you put it into your shopping cart, so
you do not buy food that will be out of code in less than 7 or 8 months.
♦ For canned goods, select sizes that your family will eat in one meal. In the event of a power failure during mild weather, you will not be able to preserve leftovers.
♦ For maximum shelf life, store your food in a cool, dark place and rotate your stock.
♦ Protect your food from insects and rodents.
♦ When you are no longer able to shop normally, consume the perishable items in your refrigerator first, followed by the items in your freezer. Only when these two sources are depleted should you consume your emergency food.
As you begin to purchase food for your six month emergency supply, you need to be aware of how much it costs to buy 8,000 calories of food (one day of meals for an active family of four). If you are not conscientiously acquiring high calorie foods, you may be surprised at just how expensive it can be to stock up. On the other hand, it can be really cheap. For example, at Sam’s Club, you can purchase a 9 pound box of Quaker brand oatmeal for about $6.88. Each box contains 100 servings and each serving pro- vides 150 calories. That works out to about 7¢ per 150 calorie serving. By contrast, a
15 ounce can of green beans contains only 70 calories. So, if you can still purchase green beans for 50¢ per can, it will cost you $1.07 for 150 calories’ worth. Therefore, to purchase 8,000 calories’ worth of these two products, the oatmeal will cost less than $4, but the green beans will cost over $57. Of course, nobody wants to live entirely on oatmeal or green beans, but if the budget for your emergency food supply is limited, you will need information on the cost per day of your food choices.
You might be interested to know that there are quite a few food items that can supply a family with 8,000 calories for a very low cost. When purchased in large quantities, white rice, pasta, lentils, sugar, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, ramen, popcorn, and tortilla chips can each supply 8,000 calories for less than $3. In the range of $3 to
$4 for 8,000 calories, you can also buy corn meal, brownie mix, canola oil, split peas, brown sugar, peanuts, and oatmeal. When viewed from this perspective, a family of four could easily acquire a one month supply of fairly basic emergency food for under $100, so six months should not be out of reach. Now, if your emergency supply budget can go as high as $10 per day for a family of four, you can also include such desirable foods as Bisquick, saltine crackers, graham crackers, walnuts, red beans, chocolate, Doritos, muffin mixes, pancake mix, strawberry jam, pinto beans, vanilla wafers, Oreos, mayonnaise, honey, Nestle’s Quik, and powdered milk. These daily costs are based upon actual purchase prices from Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Dominick’s, Jewel, and Walgreen’s in northern Illinois during the summer of 2006.
Although a carefully stocked refrigerator can easily store 100,000 calories’ worth of food, you should probably not include any refrigerated items as part of your emergency food supply. Unless you can quickly replace the items you consume, your stocking levels will always be unreliable, varying from day to day. Instead, you should merely consider your cold storage foods as “bonus” items. On the other hand, you may wish to start thinking about how you can maintain a certain stocking level of high-value foods that can remain frozen for several months, like butter, meat, and nuts. Of course, without a reliable generator and a good supply of fuel, your cold storage foods are at risk of spoiling during a prolonged power failure, but the longer you can get by on the food in your refrigerator and freezer, the longer your emergency food supply will last.
HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES FOR SIX MONTHS
Imagine for a moment that 33% of the truck drivers and sales clerks in your town are too sick to work. You will begin to see fewer deliveries of commodities and very long lines at the check-out counters. Eventually, a mob scene will unfold at any store that has merchandise to sell. In a severe pandemic, that is what most people could face for an indefinite period of time. Now, are there any non-grocery items that your family relies upon every day or every week or every month that they can not do without? Toilet paper and toothpaste should come to mind, as should vitamins, medications, and feminine hygiene products. In fact, the list of commodities that you will want to have is probably quite extensive; but, just like the problem with groceries, the problem with household supplies is going to be the unpredictable impact of the pandemic on product availability. Even if you are willing to go shopping, and even if you are will- ing to sanitize or quarantine the products that you buy, you really do not know how the pandemic will affect the production or distribution of the things you need.
Since you can not know in advance which commodities will be in short supply, or for how long they may missing from the stores after the pandemic has passed, stock up on as many commodities as possible as soon as possible. Fortunately, most of these items are not perishable, and many are compact, so you may wish to consider obtaining a one-year supply of every household commodity that your family will want to have, both during and after a pandemic. These suggestions should help to get you started:
♦ Take an inventory of the non-grocery commodity items in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and garage. Determine how much of each item your family needs per month or per year. Based upon the estimated consumption rates, establish a stocking level of your essential and desirable household supplies. Be sure it is adequate to see your family through several months of economic disruption.
♦ Acquire both over-the-counter and prescription medications for as many common medical conditions as possible, even if you are perfectly healthy right now.
♦ Acquire personal protection equipment, such as respirators, nitrile gloves, sanita- tion supplies, and any items that will help you care for someone with the flu.
♦ Assume that you will not leave your home to go shopping for several months.
♦ Even if you choose to shop, assume that a pandemic will make everything scarce.
♦ Hospitals are not prepared to care for the vast numbers of people who will become sick, so you must accept the fact that it will be completely up to you to provide medical care in your home for every family member who becomes sick.
♦ Assume that you will not have access to a medical care facility for several months.
♦ Assume that everyone in your household will become very sick with the flu.
♦ If you have family members that are in the 18 to 40 year-old range, you really need to learn about the so-called “cytokine storm”.
[A cytokine storm is an especially lethal medical phenomenon. In brief, if the immune system of a healthy, young adult over-reacts to a strong flu virus and sends too many cytokine cells into the lungs, it will lead to rapid inflammation of the lungs and death by suffocation. The cytokine storm was the leading cause of death during the 1918
Spanish Flu pandemic and is presently the leading cause of death for victims of the
H5N1 virus. On page 21 of this document you will find a link for further reading.]
DISRUPTION OF UTILITIES AND PUBLIC SERVICES
What would you do if you had plenty of food and household supplies but, after a couple of months of coping with a pandemic, your town lost its electric service? Could you power your sump pump and keep your basement dry? Could you power your furnace and heat your home? Could you cook? Now, imagine that shortly after the electricity goes out, your community is unable to pump clean water to your home. Since any given utility is often dependent upon the services of one or more other utilities, if your town lost electricity it would eventually lose its public water supply, too. This is be- cause municipal water filtration systems and distribution pumps need electricity, and their back-up generators will eventually run out of fuel. So, if your town lost both electricity and water, how would they process raw sewage? Even if your home had an alternate source of water, such as a well or a stream, would you still be able to use your toilets if the local sanitary district could not accept your sewage? And what about garbage pick-up or natural gas? At what point would these services stop?
Over a period of time, disruptions in supply chains and staffing could make it impossi- ble for utility companies and public services to operate normally. Of course, your community may be fortunate enough to experience only sporadic disruptions; however, it may very well have to endure a complete shutdown of one or more utilities or ser- vices for an extended period of time. If you are not prepared for the possibility of disruptions, you could be faced with serious challenges to your present lifestyle. How- ever, rather than speculate about which utilities and services might fail in your com- munity, or in which order they might be disrupted, you should simply anticipate that at some point in time you will lose each and every one of them. Although it may seem unimaginable right now, this sort of inconvenience and hardship may be your future. So, unless you are prepared to be completely self-sufficiency for water, heat, light, sanitation, and personal safety–all at the same time for at least a month or two–your home could become quite unlivable.
Apart from the pressing need to keep your family warm, clean, and well-fed, you should also think about how to keep them safe. You need to understand that there will be many millions of unprepared people in thousands of cities and towns all over the country who will suffer from absolute despair at the prospect of starving or freez- ing to death. Predictably, their despair will eventually give rise to localized store looting. Before long, the looters will undoubtedly seek out affluent neighborhoods, as some of these people see no alternative but to break into homes in search of food and shelter. If this scenario seems a bit far-fetched, perhaps you should remind yourself of just how quickly the situation in New Orleans eroded into anarchy. Are you prepared for that kind of nightmare to become a reality in your town? Ready or not, here are some more unpleasant thoughts to help you focus on the need to become self-sufficient:
♦ Expect disruptions of electricity, natural gas, water, waste hauling, and sewage processing. Some disruptions will occur simultaneously and last for weeks.
♦ If your community can not haul away your garbage, you will have to store it in- definitely, so plan ahead to sort it out and burn what you can. Think about reus- ing as many items as possible, such as metal cans and plastic bags.
♦ If your community cannot process sewage, and your toilets become useless, you
Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months page 7
will have to dig a latrine and build a privacy screen. Alternately, you could invest in a couple of self-contained camping toilets which could be used indoors.
♦ Influenza will affect people in every profession, so you should assume that the police department, the fire department, and the local ambulance service will be understaffed and overwhelmed. Do not count on them to respond to your needs.
♦ If your community lacks adequate staffing for law enforcement, you may wish to arm every member of your family and establish an armed neighborhood watch.
♦ Before social conditions really deteriorate in your town, cover all of your first floor
windows with security bars or plywood and post quarantine signs on your doors and walls. Buy the supplies now. If things begin to turn ugly (New Orleans style), consider placing an armed guard on the roof and sleeping in shifts.
COOKING WITHOUT YOUR KITCHEN
If you have no utilities and no way to prepare hot meals without the aid of your kitchen appliances, you may have to survive on cold, ready-to-eat foods. Initially, that may not prove to be much of a problem, but unless you have invested
heavily in ready- to-eat foods, you will eventually run out of things you can serve without cooking. For economic reasons, emergency food supplies are often built around large quantities of low-cost grain products that can tolerate long-term storage. These are items such as beans, oatmeal, pasta, lentils, split peas, wheat, and rice–all of which must be cooked. You may even discover that half of your emergency food calories are locked up in dry grain products. This should not present much of problem, however, because with a good camp stove and a decent supply of cooking fuel, you can avail yourself of all those grains and prepare hot food for every meal. Fortunately, cooking with camp stoves is cheap and easy, so there is really no excuse for serving cold food, even in a prolonged emergency situation. Here are some tips for cooking without modern appliances:
♦ Acquire at least one camp stove that burns Coleman liquid fuel and a second stove that burns propane. Propane camp stoves are very safe for indoor cooking, but they cost a lot more to operate than liquid fuel stoves. Save the propane stove for use when the weather is bad or when it is simply not safe to cook outdoors.
♦ Some camp stoves are dual-fuel capable, which means they can burn both Coleman liquid fuel and regular unleaded gasoline. These stoves are inexpensive, so you might think about buying two or three and saving one for use as a back-up.
♦ Measure the rate at which your stoves consume fuel, then acquire a 6 month sup- ply for each one. Plan for an average of 20 minutes of cooking time for each meal. This rate of consumption will allow you to boil large kettles of pasta or beans.
♦ If you can not find Coleman liquid fuel, you can still store enough cooking fuel for a dual-fuel stove for months: fill up a couple of 5 gallon gas cans. A 10,000 BTU burner, operating for an hour each day, will only use about two gallons per month.
♦ Although Coleman liquid fuel is highly refined and has chemical stabilizers for long-term storage, you still need to rotate your stock to keep it fresh.
♦ If you become sick, your family members will have to cook for you, so while condi- tions are still normal, be sure to have everyone become familiar with the stoves. Show them how to setup, light, cook, clean, re-fuel, and store each stove.
♦ Have at least two manual can openers for all those canned goods.
For the purpose of emergency planning, the water you use on a daily basis should be categorized by the quality and quantity you actually require. For example, water for oral hygiene or drinking requires the highest quality, but the lowest quantity; water for cleaning your body or your clothes requires the lowest quality, but the highest quantity; and water for cooking falls somewhere in-between. The differences among these three applications are important to understand, because if your community can not furnish clean water to your home, you will have to furnish it for yourself; however, only a small percentage of your water has to be good enough to drink. For example, you certainly do not need to flush toilets or wash clothes with drinking water, yet all of the water that is piped into your home is clean enough to drink. So, under normal circumstances, you actually do flush toilets and wash clothes with drinking water.
Naturally, the prospect of being without tap water is pretty horrifying for Americans. We fully expect to have unlimited quantities of clean water every day. Unfortunately, even minimum hydration rations for one person for one month (15 gallons) take up a lot of storage space, so after you have obtained a six-month supply of drinking water for everyone in your family, any additional storage of water for cooking and cleaning may not be practical. With a bit of planning and a good supply of containers, you can safely postpone storage of your drinking water rations until several days after a pan- demic has been declared; however, you may eventually need an alternate source of water for cooking and cleaning. As you investigate alternate water sources, consider the steps that will be necessary to make this water safe enough for its intended use. For example, it does not really matter how dirty the water is if you only need it for flushing a toilet. By contrast, every drop of water that you collect for drinking, oral hygiene, or medical care must be processed in three distinct steps:
1. Prefilter the water with a paper coffee filter or several layers of cloth to remove as much silt as possible. This will extend the service life of your filter cartridges.
2. Add a chemical treatment to the water to kill as many organisms as possible. No filter can remove viruses, but they are easily killed with a small amount of sodium hypochlorite, also known as ordinary laundry bleach (unscented Clorox or Purex).
3. Filter the water down to 0.2 microns to remove organisms such as cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia, which can not be killed with small amounts of bleach.
Any water you collect from a roof, lake, sump pit, or shallow well must go through this three step process if it is going into your mouth or if it will be used to clean a cut, abrasion, or open sore. Here are some more ways to address your water needs:
♦ Plan for at least ½ gallon of water per person per day for basic hydration. If you want to cook grains and legumes, increase that to one full gallon per person per day. With an additional two or three gallons per person per day, you can be clean.
♦ As soon as a pandemic is declared, fill as many storage containers as possible with municipal tap water. Municipal tap water has already been filtered and purified, but just to be sure that your tap water will remain completely free of biological hazards for a full year, add 4 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon. You may find an additional 40 or 50 gallons of clean drinking water in your water heater, and a few more gallons if you drain down your pipes.
♦ Save your disposable soft drink and water bottles for future storage of drinking water. Allow them to dry and then store them in new trash bags. When the pan- demic is announced, sanitize these bottles and caps by immersing them in a solu- tion of 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water for two minutes. Then, fill them with water from your tap. Add 4 drops of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon as a preservative and this water will be safe to drink for at least one year.
♦ Save your plastic milk jugs, too, but do not plan to store drinking water in them.
Due to the milk protein residues, you can never really get them clean enough. In- stead, use them to store water for washing or flushing only. Because of the pro- tein residues, you will need to add 8 drops (¼ teaspoon) of unscented bleach per gallon of tap water. Milk jugs will biodegrade, so keep them out of the sunlight.
♦ Water that you collect from any alternate source for washing your body or clothes should be treated with 8 drops of bleach per gallon, however, this water should still be considered potentially hazardous, even with the addition of bleach. The large volume that you require for washing makes filtration impractical, so you must not allow this water to come into contact with your face or any broken skin (remember cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia). If you need to wash your face or broken skin, boil this water first, or use drinking water instead.
♦ All cooking water that you collect from alternate sources should be filtered and boiled. If it reaches a full boil during cooking, you will not have to add bleach. If you do not have a proper water filter, you can remove most of the sediments from collected water by pouring it through a few coffee filters or layers of cloth.
♦ Yes, you can boil water from just about any source and make it safe for drinking in a single step, but this process uses an awful lot of fuel.
♦ Consider the purchase of a high quality, portable, water filtration device, such as the Katadyn Gravidyn, for treating the water you collect. Be sure that the device you purchase is easy to use by everyone and will meet the needs of your entire household for at least one full year. (The Gravidyn produces one gallon of 0.2 mi- cron filtered water per hour, has no moving parts, requires no power, does not have to be attended, is good for 10,000 gallons, and costs about $160 at REI.)
♦ If you do not have enough water for properly washing pots and pans, wipe them clean with a paper towel, then sanitize them by soaking them in bleach water for two minutes. 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon is adequate for kitchen use.
♦ If your domestic water supply is ever interrupted, you can conserve water by using disposable cups, plates, and utensils.
♦ If you have a well and a generator, you should be able to draw water at a rate of 4 or 5 gallons per minute. If you allow for a few minutes of fuel consumption each time you warm up the engine, you should be able to draw 50 gallons of water for every ¼ gallon of gasoline your generator consumes. With a fuel supply of only 15 gallons, you could operate a 5,000 watt generator long enough to pump 50 gallons of water per day, every day, for 2 full months. 90 gallons would last a year.
♦ An inexpensive alternative to a private well is a manual water pump for a shallow well. Although these “jerk-water” pumps can only draw from about 25 feet down, they are fairly cheap to purchase from such outfits as Northern Tools. Of course, you may need someone to help you install it and, since this type of well is not very deep, you must filter and purify the water. Apart from that, you do need to have shallow groundwater in your region, so this solution is not for everyone.
Unless you have solar panels, you probably rely entirely upon your local power com- pany for your home’s electric service. In turn, your local power company probably relies upon numerous other power companies on a regional power grid to assist them when they have generation or transmission problems. So, what will happen to your home if there is widespread sickness and absenteeism among the power plant opera- tors and line technicians who contribute to the regional flow of electricity? What if the distribution system has broken down and repair parts are simply not available? Your town could experience a blackout. How will you cope without electricity? A total power failure during a pandemic is actually quite likely, and it is one of the pandemic consequences that all of the experts predict, but it may be a short-lived event that only lasts for a few days. On the other hand, a blackout may very well last for weeks. Regardless of the duration, if you can prepare for a blackout that lasts at least one full month, and if the month you prepare for is January, you should be able to ride it out just fine. Here are some measures you can take for getting along without electricity:
♦ Keep your basement dry with a battery-operated, back-up sump pump. An alterna- tive would be a portable, 12 volt, transfer pump that can run off a car battery.
♦ Keep your water pipes from bursting by warming them with a catalytic propane heater. During a winter power outage, consider draining your pipes.
♦ Keep yourself warm during the day with winter clothing and sleeping bags. For maximum warmth at night, pitch a tent indoors and drape a couple of blankets over it. Then, simply add bedding and people.
♦ If you still have natural gas service, you can heat part of your home with your kitchen oven. Just be sure that the space you heat is not air-tight. As a measure of safety, place a carbon monoxide detector in any room that you intend to heat.
♦ Conserve your heat by closing off any room that you do not need to occupy.
♦ Kerosene lamps, which can each provide ten or twelve candlepower of illumina- tion, are cheap to buy and cheap to operate. Have at least two for every room you plan to occupy. Store enough fuel and replacement wicks for several weeks of con- tinual use. One gallon of kerosene should provide 12 candlepower for 100 hours.
♦ Candles can supplement your kerosene lamps, but unless they have stable bases and glass chimneys, they should only be considered as a back-up to a back-up.
♦ Propane heaters, lamps, and stoves can be used safely indoors, but they consume
oxygen and release a small quantity of carbon monoxide, so they should not be
used in air-tight spaces. Coleman liquid fuel lamps and stoves are far more eco- nomical to operate than their propane counterparts, but they emit relatively large quantities of carbon monoxide, so they must never be used indoors.
♦ A 5,000 watt generator will burn one gallon of gasoline per hour, so fuel storage for more than a few days of continuous use is not practical. Apart from that, you should bear in mind that the noise from a large generator is rather conspicuous and will alert desperate people to the fact that you still have resources.
♦ Do not leave your generator unattended. If you must leave it for a while, chain it to something solid to prevent theft. Better still, bolt it to the floor of your garage or basement and furnish it with a metal pipe exhaust system.
♦ Purchase a couple of siphons, so you can use the gasoline in your automobiles to fuel your generator. [Check for factory-installed anti-siphoning devices.]
PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT
At some point in time you will become profoundly aware of just how vulnerable you are to this virus and you will want to take aggressive steps to protect yourself. Although you might be able to stay at home for many weeks, and thereby avoid all contact with the general public, you may eventually have to venture out of your house for some- thing. If you do, you will surely want protection. From a practical perspective, there is really nothing that can provide a 100% guarantee that you will not get the flu while you are out in public, but there are a few reasonable steps you can take that will help you defend yourself.
Before you even step out to get the mail, put on a pair of disposable gloves. You have probably heard this before, but the most common means of transmitting the flu from human to human is from hand to face. That is, from your own hand to your own face. So, if you do come into contact with something that is contaminated, and if you then touch your nose, your mouth, or your eyes, you can introduce that very contaminant directly into your body. You may pick it up from “who-knows-where” and it may go right from your hand to your face and make you sick. That is why hand washing is so important. Really, you absolutely must put on a pair of disposable gloves before you come into contact with any object that has the remotest possibility of being contami- nated. This includes such everyday things as shopping carts, doorknobs, gas pumps, mail, money, groceries, newspapers, pets, and people–in fact, any object that you have not personally quarantined or sanitized.
Apart from frequent hand washing and the religious use of disposable gloves, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to wear a respirator. This device can prevent the inadvertent inhalation of airborne particles that might contain the virus. Since viruses are transmitted easily from person to person through the aerosol cocktail of saliva and mucus that is ejected by coughs and sneezes, it is essential that you filter out these contaminated airborne droplets before they get into your lungs. That is where the respirator comes in.
A respirator is a passive air filter that you wear over your nose and mouth. The most common one may be the disposable N95, which is available for about 50¢. Although this respirator is widely recommended by health agencies, it is not capable of provid- ing much protection against the flu. The reasons are as follows: most N95 disposable respirators have a “one size fits all” design, so the perimeter fit is poor; the cheapest N95 respirators lack an exhalation valve, so the perimeter fit is disturbed when you exhale; the filter degrades from the water vapor that you exhale; and, the designation of “95” means that only 95% of the particles that are 0.3 microns or larger will actually be filtered out. That allows 5% of the potentially infected particles to pass by the filter and enter your mouth or nose. Given these flaws, you should not rely upon N95s for protection. What you really need are N100 disposables and P100 reusable half-masks. Use the disposable N100s for limited service when the transmission risk is low, and use the P100 half-masks for extended service in close quarters. If you must care for someone who has the flu, you will also need a face shield to protect your eyes from direct contact with anything that is ejected by a cough or sneeze. For additional pro- tection, have unvented N95s or simple ear-loop medical masks for the patient to wear.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE SKEPTIC IN YOU
Many government agencies have expressed concerns over the investment that is re- quired for truly adequate pandemic preparation. They do not believe they can afford to help everyone to prepare. Likewise, there are individuals who have expressed that they, personally, can not afford to prepare either. In fact, some folks simply view disaster preparation as a big outlay of cash without any tangible benefits. If you count yourself among them, you need to understand that becoming self-sufficient is a lot like buying insurance, except that this particular insurance policy will refund all of your premiums. Unlike ordinary insurance, which gives you absolutely nothing back unless you have a claim (and then merely replaces what you already had), this insurance provides you with a large stock of brand-new goods that you will actually possess and use. Besides, if you do not need it for H5N1, you will eventually need it for another flu strain (H7N2), or for a natural disaster, or for some very bad event that is man-made. The world is not getting any safer, so you can not afford not to buy this insurance.
It is becoming evident that governments and businesses around the world are finally beginning to take this situation seriously; however, they are not moving very quickly to prepare. There seems to be a lot of organizational work going on, but nothing much in the way of stockpiling emergency supplies. Unfortunately, most of the pandemic preparation efforts of governments and businesses are not really meant to take care of the general population. Instead, they are meant primarily to preserve the continuity of their own particular institutions. Likewise, your local government may already be fully aware of the potential impact that a pandemic would have on your community, but the welfare of your household will not be high on their list. Indeed, it is likely that your local government officials will struggle just to feed their own families.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a consensus among economists, medical profession- als, and government officials that neither the United States government nor private business can ever prepare adequately for this event. In fact, the Secretary of the De- partment of Health and Human Services has made a public statement to this effect, warning that each community will have to take care of itself. So, unless you hold a job that contributes directly to the pandemic relief efforts (civil, medical, military, utility) it would be safe to assume that nobody has stockpiled any food or water or medicine for you. Even if you do hold one the more “mission critical” jobs, and even if your employer can furnish basic supplies while you are on the job, nobody will be taking care of your home or family. There will simply be too many sick, needy, unprepared people for any large-scale relief effort to be successful. Now, if you are willing to ac- cept this gloomy prospect as an impending reality, you can appreciate how important it is for you to get your family ready to become very independent for a very long time.
♦ While there is still time to prepare, conduct some on-line research and learn for yourself about the various pandemic predictions. Since the case fatality rate is presently over 75%, some are predicting that an absolute worst-case scenario will unfold, killing tens of millions people in the United States alone, followed by a global economic depression that will last for years.
♦ You could probably ignore most of the advice that is provided by the government at: www.pandemicflu.gov. Although they do recommend that you have enough food and water to last you at least two weeks, they also recommend that you pre- pare for twelve weeks of school closure. If you only have supplies for two weeks, it will not be possible to stay home for twelve weeks. After two weeks has passed, you will have to leave your home for something, and then you may be exposed.
♦ Be sure to visit Pandemic Flu Information Forum at http://pfiforum.comand Flu Wiki at http://www.newfluwiki2.com. At these sites you can read the latest news reports and you can get immediate answers to any pandemic planning questions you might have. You can also learn about the science behind the pandemic.
♦ Some informed individuals believe that 1 billion people could die from the next pandemic, yet others believe that only few hundred thousand will die, mostly in
the developing countries of southeast Asia. Regardless, it is likely that at
100 million people in the Unites States will become very sick. So, you need to un- derstand the means of flu transmission and the steps you can take to protect your- self and your family. Additionally, you need to know how to care for someone who has the flu. For a sobering and disturbing discussion on how to care for a flu pa- tient, you should read: http://www.fluwikie.com/annex/WoodsonMonograph.htm. Dr. Woodson’s original timeline may be dated (he predicted 2006), but his pan- demic preparation advice makes for some very important reading.
♦ You should anticipate that absenteeism and social distancing, as well as actual illness, will combine to scare people away from contact with each other for an in- definite period of time. Since there will be no vaccine for several months, this may hold true for virtually every profession on Earth, from janitor to CEO. Certainly, it will apply to the two groups of people we rely upon the most for our food, medi- cine, and household supplies: the truck drivers and the sales clerks. Realistically, low staffing levels will cause problems everywhere.
♦ Most people can only get by for a week or two before they run out of something they really need, like milk or toilet paper, so you should anticipate that the vast majority of people in your community will be woefully unprepared to endure even one month of real hardship, let alone half a year. For this reason, you should for- mulate a standard response in anticipation of the moment when desperate people come to your door in search of food, water, and sundries.
♦ Keep your car’s gas tank as full as possible at all times. Remember: you will not be able to buy gasoline if there are no drivers for the tank trucks or power for the gas pumps or clerks to staff the gas stations.
♦ Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand for making small purchases. ATMs, credit card readers, and banks need electricity, too.
♦ Anticipate that some civil disturbances will occur in every town. These distur- bances could spill into your neighborhood, so you may wish to arm each member of your family. For an added measure of security, consider banding together with a few other families to create an armed enclave. Look around your neighborhood to see if there are like-minded individuals with whom you can form an alliance.
♦ Under normal circumstances, the mere presence of a firearm is enough to dissuade all but the most desperate of criminals. During a pandemic, however, despair may prevail even among the most rational of citizens. For this possibility, you should be prepared to fire a weapon as a means of stopping an invasion of your home.
♦ Finally, stay informed during the crisis by listening to your battery-powered radio.
If social conditions begin to deteriorate around you, take steps to secure your home, but be ready to leave town with only a few hours’ notice.
THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF THOROUGH PREPARATION
According to the 2005 United States Census, approximately 12.5% of the American population is impoverished. That works out to roughly 37,500,000 people who live in households with annual incomes of less than $20,000 for a family of four. At this income level, these people are unable to meet all of their own needs for food, shelter, clothing, and medicine; therefore, many of them rely upon government assistance programs and private charities in order to survive. Millions of these poor families live in run-down apartment buildings in bad neighborhoods. They live there because that is all they can afford. As you might expect, the ones who are gainfully employed tend to perform menial labor in low-paying industries, such as lodging, agriculture, food service, janitorial, entertainment, and transportation. Just think of all the people in this country who work in thankless, dead-end jobs as busboys, dish washers, fry cooks, custodians, chamber maids, ticket takers, ushers, car washers, landscapers, field hands, parking lot attendants, et cetera. These people do not have the disposable income for even the most rudimentary of pandemic preparations. They live from pay- check to paycheck, buying only what they can for daily subsistence. They could not possibly “shelter in place” for more than a week or two, because they simply do not have the resources. These poor people will be among the earliest and hardest hit.
When the pandemic finally does arrive in the U.S., and people begin to practice social distancing, the lowest-paying industries with the highest public exposure will be shut down, and most of their employees will be laid off. People who are not laid off, but are still interacting with the general public, will almost certainly be exposed to the flu and they, in turn, will bring the virus home to their families. Ironically, the ones who were laid off will fare no better. They, too, will eventually be exposed to the flu and will bring it home to their families, because at some point in time they will have to leave their apartments in search of food, toiletries, and medicine. When they do, they will encounter infected people on the street, in public transportation, and in the stores. In very short order, these people are going to cause an enormous problem for the health care system, law enforcement agencies, and every level of government.
Whether or not they are actually sick with the flu, it is likely that several million poor people will be flat broke and starving within a week, so they are sure to pursue every resource possible to get free food. They are going to show up at medical facilities, police stations, government offices, churches, and schools in search of assistance. When they discover that nobody is able to help them, panic will set in and there will be civil disturbances and property crimes (remember New Orleans). Some of these people will merely go from door to door begging for handouts, but others will try to steal what they need from wherever they can. To make matters worse, within a couple of weeks, millions of these people will have full-blown cases of the flu, and there will be no safe means of handling the sick and the dying, or their corpses.
Surely, any location with low-rent apartment buildings will be hell on Earth. Although it might seem reasonable to believe that people at higher income levels will fare substantially better than the poor, that is not necessarily going to be the case. In fact, this same panic-despair scenario will eventually unfold in every neighborhood in the country, no matter what the socioeconomic status: if you are laid off you will re- ceive no income, but if you go to work you are likely to become sick. As the pandemic progresses and the economy worsens, almost every industry will begin layoffs, and most people will eventually find themselves short of money for their necessities. How- ever, whether or not you have the money or the credit to buy food, toiletries, and medi- cine is not the real issue here. The real issue is simply the risk associated with expo- sure to people who are sick. That is all. So, unless you already possess absolutely everything you need to be completely self-sufficient within your own home for quite a long period of time, it will not be possible to “shelter in place” effectively.
As I mentioned earlier, it is probably safe to assume that most of the middle and upper income families can get by for a couple of weeks with the supply of food, toiletries, and medicine they have stored in their cupboards, but two weeks is not going to be enough. Sooner or later, most of the families in this country will be exposed to the flu simply because they are not ready to endure an extended period of isolation. At some point, their failure to prepare will drive them from their homes. It is only a matter of time. Remember: if you can not shelter in place successfully for the duration of the pan- demic, you will eventually be compelled to leave your home to get something from the outside world. If you have to get something from the outside world, you are sure to expose yourself to people who are sick. If you expose yourself to people who are sick, what makes your chances of survival any better than those of an unemployed busboy?
THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF AN EMERGENCY UTILITY PLAN
It is not possible to predict disruptions of public utilities, except to say that when the pandemic does arrive, utility disruptions will follow; however, the extent of the disrup- tions could be quite variable. The pandemic might only cause minor inconveniences, such as the temporary rationing of gasoline, or it might cause a complete collapse of the global economy. No matter how uncertain the future, an emergency utility plan has to make some fundamental assumptions about the sorts of things that will be disrupted and the length of time they will be unavailable to you. For the sake of your personal emergency utility plan, the following minimum assumptions should be made:
♦ The pandemic will last for a cumulative period of one year.
♦ It will come in three distinct waves, each lasting two months.
♦ 33% of the population will get the flu and 2% of the global population will die.
♦ Absenteeism in the work place will eventually reach 50%.
♦ Each wave will disrupt gasoline production and distribution for one month.
♦ Each wave will disrupt the power grid for one month.
♦ Each wave will disrupt the public water supply for one month.
♦ Each wave will disrupt garbage collection and recycling for one month.
♦ Each wave will disrupt sewage treatment for one month.
♦ The pandemic will disrupt natural gas service for three straight months.
[The problem with natural gas is that many homes and businesses still
lights in their ovens, furnaces, and water heaters; therefore, utility workers must go to every address that is served by a particular local pipeline in order to verify that the gas valve has been turned off at the meter prior to restoring the flow of gas.]
After you have acquired everything you could possibly need to achieve complete and total independence and self-sufficiency within your own home for at least six months, you should really start thinking about the next six months. If the economic disrup- tions really do last for more than a year, as the Congressional Budget Office predicts, many of the items that you want to have every day could become quite scarce and very expensive, even after the pandemic has passed. This is partly because our country’s supply chains tend to operate on “just in time” inventory delivery systems. In addi- tion, nearly every supply chain in the United States either distributes foreign products or relies upon some foreign-made equipment to remain operational. To make matters worse, a lot of our imported goods come from countries in Asia and South America where the standards of living are much lower than ours and where the population densities are much higher. Compared to the U.S. and other affluent countries, the high population densities of the poorer nations, in combination with their lower sani- tation and health care standards, will surely result in substantially higher rates of illness, absenteeism, and mortality. Consequently, we should expect product short- ages and inflated prices for many months after the pandemic has passed.
Apart from disruptions, shortages, and inflation, the discussions on the preceding pages have made little mention of how to cope with any personal financial crisis that a pandemic might bring to your household. Informed speculation on such an issue really has to be case-specific, so I have avoided it. After all, people in some career fields, such as law enforcement and health care, are sure to remain in high demand indefi- nitely, while others may find themselves with fewer work hours or with no work at all. Certainly, when people start practicing social distancing there will be a sharp reduc- tion in revenue for such huge industries as travel, entertainment, and food service.
Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that a severe pandemic will bring about layoffs and bankruptcies for just about any non-essential business that happens to draw people into close contact with one another. They also predict that thousands of households will emerge from the next pandemic with lower incomes, or with no income at all. You see, in addition to the risk of layoffs or loss of employment, the possibility exists that the primary bread winner in your household will not survive the flu. That is all the more reason to stock up on as much as you can as soon as you can. Do it while the goods you need are still available and affordable. Do it while you still have time to plan for your family’s survival.
Finally, there is just one indisputable, scientific prediction that you need to remember: it is not a matter of if the next pandemic will occur; it is simply a matter of when. So, whether or not you have already begun to prepare, you would do your family a great service if you were to visit the sites and links provided below and discover for yourself what the economists, epidemiologists, and government officials are saying about the impact that the next pandemic will have on our economy. I strongly recommend that you begin your research with the articles by William Stewart and Grattan Woodson at: http://www.fluwikie.com/pmwiki.php?n=Consequences.PandemicPreparednessGuidesIf only half of their pandemic predictions come true, the entire world is in for some very hard times.
In February of 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a 108 page document called Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance: Community Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation in the United States·Early, Targeted, Limited Use of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions. In this document, the CDC proposes several practical steps which have the potential to reduce the impact of a pandemic on the economy of the U.S.A. One of the CDC’s most important recommendations is to close all schools, from kindergarten through college, for a period of twelve weeks. The in- tent of this action is to activate a social distancing plan that will reduce the rate of flu transmission and thereby prevent the collapse of the electric grid, fuel distribution, food production, public water, commodity supply chains, banking, law enforcement, medical care, the stock market, and society as we know it. In tandem with planned school closings, the CDC has proposed a variety of social distancing ideas.
[Social distancing can take many forms, including the modification of social greetings to exclude handshaking, hugging, and kissing. It could also extend to the temporary suspension of any activity that brings large groups of people together, such as sporting events, carnivals, plays, concerts, et cetera. For the full mitigation plan, visit: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/community/mitigation.html.]
Unfortunately, the CDC has failed to suggest how to endure a twelve week period of social distancing and school closures. There seems to be a certain degree of disconnect here, because their recommendation for stocking up on food and water remains at two weeks. So, how do you keep your kids safely at home for twelve weeks if you only have enough food for the first two? Clearly, you need more. Yet, if you go shopping, you might bring the flu home in your groceries. To make matters worse, this plan to close schools for twelve weeks merely addresses mitigation for the first wave of the pan- demic. It does not include any recommendations for coping with subsequent waves. Another potential flaw in the CDC’s mitigation plan is the effect it might have on the virus. For example, if the first wave is protracted over a period of ten or twelve weeks, rather than be permitted to run its normal course over a span of only four to eight weeks, the virus will have a much larger window of opportunity for evolving and reas- sorting into a form that can reinfect people who had previously survived it. The net effect of this could be the inadvertent generation of a second pandemic-causing virus and the emergence of a second global pandemic, even before the first one died out.
Certainly, this new mitigation plan offers us more hope for survival than anything the CDC has offered previously, but it gives no direction for stocking your shelves or for staying warm. You have to do that yourself. It does, however, sanction an action that we already knew was necessary: to get your kids home and keep them home.
For those of you who really are intent on seeing your children survive this pandemic, twelve weeks away from school will not be enough. What you really need is a plan that will keep your entire family completely out of harm’s way until all danger has passed. So, start with six months’ worth of supplies, increase it to a full year if you can, and then evaluate your situation to be sure that you really will be completely self- sufficient for as long as it takes. After all, if the global case fatality rate is much more than 5%, we may have to live in rustic, 19th century conditions for a couple of years.
NOTABLE CAUTIONARY STATEMENTS (abridged)
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General, The World Health Organization:
The whole world has lived under the imminent threat of an influenza pan- demic for more than three years. These years of experience have taught us just how tenacious this H5N1 virus is in birds. Countries have made heroic
efforts, yet the virus stays put or comes back again and again.
Almost no country with large outbreaks in commercial or backyard flocks has success- fully eliminated this virus from its territory. As long as the virus continues to circulate in birds, the threat of a pandemic will persist. Influenza virus is very tricky. It changes every day. The virus, as we are talking now, is mutating at a pace that we cannot keep up with. We also know that this vi- rus has lost none of its virulence. For 2006, the case fatality rate was 70%.
Michael Leavitt, Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human Services:
The threat is both real and formidable. We could be battling 5,000 differ- ent fronts at the same moment. We could have a period of over a year as we see the waves of the pandemic come and go. The lethal avian flu that is spreading rapidly around the world could soon infect wild birds and do- mesticated flocks in the United States. No one knows when or if the virus will pose a threat to people. But, itÊs just a matter of time. It may be very soon, when wild birds and, possibly, poultry flocks contract the disease. Any community that fails to prepare, with the expectation that the federal government will come to the rescue, will be tragically wrong.
Dr. David Nabarro, Senior System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, Senior
Policy Advisor to the Director General of the United Nations:
The reason why weÊre particularly at risk is our world population is so massively mobile at the moment. How long do we have before the situation is an established pandemic? The modelers are telling us that it may be as few as 21 days from the initial appearance of a virus to it being a full- blown pandemic. That particular part of modeling is, again, hedged with uncertainties. But having that lower end 21-day value is quite useful, be- cause it concentrates the mind a bit. The pandemic will kill when it comes. But more seriously perhaps, it will do massive economic and social dam- age, because our systems of trade, finance and governance are intercon- nected and will not survive the impact of a pandemic on workforces. We need to be able to deal with both the human consequences and the eco- nomic, social, and governance consequences if we’re going to survive it. And believe me, the pandemic could start tomorrow. By the time the pan- demic starts, preparation will be too late. So, you should be doing this now, and that’s my message.
Eric Hargan, Acting Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human
Never before have we been as overdue but under-prepared for a recurring natural disaster as we are now for a pandemic. Some people may think that our preparation is a waste and that we are being alarmist. In reply, I can only say that these people are right·until theyÊre wrong. And the con- sequences of them being wrong are greater than the consequences of us be- ing wrong.
Dr. Robert G. Webster, Chairman of Virology, Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital:
For 40 years I’ve been saying that weÊre bound to have another worldwide influenza event. I have to tell you, this one is the closest weÊve gotten to that. I hope to God it doesnÊt occur, because this is the worst influenza I’ve ever seen in terms of its killing capacity in animals. You put it into chick- ens this afternoon, theyÊll all be dead tomorrow. There is no question that there will be another influenza pandemic someday. We simply don’t know when it will occur or whether it will be caused by the H5N1 avian influenza virus. But, given the number of cases of H5N1 influenza that have occurred in humans to date and the rate of death of more than 50%, it would be pru- dent to develop robust plans for dealing with such a pandemic. Each household will be dependent on itself for water for food and so on. I, per- sonally, believe it will happen and make personal preparations. I might be painting a black picture but we have to think in those terms. H5N1, is the most dangerous, the most highly lethal virus that I have ever encountered.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and
(CIDRAP), University of Minnesota:
The same thingÊs going to happen here in every city, town, and village in this country as well. WeÊre all going to need things at the same time, and there won’t be any products. ItÊs not a theory of a worst-case scenario. It is a sure thing. But, it is not something that occurs over a very short period of time and then we go into the recovery phase. A pandemic will literally un- fold, like a slow-moving tsunami, over 12 to 18 months. When this situa- tion unfolds, we will shut down global markets overnight. There will not be movement of goods; there will not be movement of people. We can predict now 12 to 18 months of stress of watching loved ones die, of wondering if you are going to have food on the table the next day. Those are all things that are going to mean that we are going to have to plan·unlike any other crisis that we have had in literally the last 80 some years in this country. Beyond research and development, we need a public health approach that includes far more than drafting of general plans, as several countries and states have done. We need a detailed operational blueprint of the best way to get through 12 to 24 months of a pandemic.
USEFUL INTERNET SITES AND LINKS
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/index.htmlhttp://tinyurl.com/2ul5ax(Becoming Self-Sufficient for Six Months is posted here.)
Acetaminophen, or Tylenol: for aches, fever, and pain.
AMbien CR: sleep aid.
Azithromycin, or Zithromax: this is an antibiotic, not an anti-viral. Diazipam, or Valium: for excessive anxiety.
Hydrocodone, or Vicodan: for excessive pain.
Ibuprofen, or Advil: for aches, fever, and pain. Meclizine, or Antivert: for control of nausea.
Oseltamivir, or Tamiflu: the only antiviral that has shown any effect against H5N1.
Prednisolone: this anti-inflammatory is used with Tamiflu to prevent pneumonia. Probenecid, or Benamid: this is a dose extender for use with Tamiflu.
[Since acetaminophen and ibuprofen are not closely related, they can be used at maxi- mum strength at the same time. Aspirin, however, must not be given to flu patients.]
by Pandemic Flu Information Contributor “Dr Dave” Revised June 17, 2007