Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic

Note: Permission to reprint, repost or forward the following article
in full is granted
but only if it is not edited or excerpted.

By James Wesley, Rawles — Editor of

(Updated: July 9, 2009.)

The emerging threats of the H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu and the still-present Asian
Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern,
to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major flu outbreak,
(H2N2 in 1957, which killed 69,800 people in the United States) took five months
to reach the United States. With the advent of global jet travel, it is now
likely that highly virulent disease strains will be transmitted to population
centers around the world in a matter of just a few days. This what happened with H1N1.

In this article, I will describe how you can protect yourself and your family
from the next great pandemic. Although the likelihood of H1N1 mutating
into a more virulent strain is relatively
low, the potential impact if this were to occur would be devastating.
The current strain of the virus has a low lethality rate for
humans. But even if H1N1 turns out to be a "non-event", in the
next few decades there is a very high likelihood that some other disease will
emerge and suddenly make a pandemic breakout. The odds are against us, because
influenzas have tendency toward antigenic shift. Because influenzas are viral
and are spread by casual person to person contact, the majority of the world’s
population will be exposed in just a few weeks or months. Even today, more
than 30,000 Americans die each year from flu complications–mostly the elderly
and those with compromised immune systems.

Here are the key things that you need to do to protect yourself and your family,
and to help restore order during a pandemic:

A.) If appropriate, Raise Your Immune Resistance. (Only for non-cytokine storm variety flus–see the following discussion)

B.) Be Ready to Fight the Illness

C.) Avoid Exposure.

D.) Stockpile Key Logistics.

E.) Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance

I will briefly discuss each of these requirements in this article. I have
also posted more detailed follow-up articles on each topic in my daily blog
(web journal) at

Raise Your Immune Resistance

There are two philosophies to fighting off influenza viruses. The first and
mostly prevalent is to raise the body’s immune response. The other is to maintain
normal immune response to prevent a collapse caused by over-response–a "cytokine
". Unless you are immuno-suppressed, do not raise your immune resistance for an influenza where cytokine storm has been reported to be causing a significant number of deaths.

To raise your immune resistance to disease it is important that you stop smoking.
If you are a smoker you have already realized that you are much more susceptible
to respiratory infections. Smokers are at high risk to develop complications.
Get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, drink only in moderation, get plenty
of sleep, and use top quality vitamin supplements (from a company such as  eVitamins.)
If you are overweight, you need to alter your diet get down to within five
of normal
body weight.
You need to change your diet for two important reasons: First, unhealthy foods
weaken your immune system. Cut out refined sugar. Avoid candy, snack foods,
soft drinks, and any processed foods with preservatives, artificial sweeteners,
or MSG. Avoid store-bought meat,
which is often tainted by the hormones and antibiotics used in commercial livestock
feeds. Wild game or home-raised livestock is much healthier! Lastly, pray.
Why? Anxiety is a form of stress that weakens the immune system, and prayer
is a proven way to relieve anxiety and stress. And more importantly, as a Christian
I believe that it is crucial to pray for God’s guidance, providence, and protection.

Be Ready to Fight the Illness

There are some symptoms that distinguish between colds and flus: Flus typically
cause fever, chills, achy feeling (malaise), headaches, and extreme fatigue.
Cold symptoms are usually restricted to the upper respiratory tract while flu
symptoms tend to involve the entire body.

Influenzas tend to kill most of their victims in two ways: dehydration and
lung congestion. Even the Avian flu, which is respiratory usually starts with
stomach flu symptoms. Stomach flus usually induce diarrhea which rapidly dehydrates
the victim. To fight this, you need to stock up on both anti-diarrhea medicines
(such as Imodium AD–an anti-spasmodic) and electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte.
(The latter is available in bulk though large chain "warehouse" stores.)
The various sports type drinks (such as Gatorade) can be used as oral rehydration
solutions (ORSs) too. However, I prefer to dilute them about 50% with water,
they have a lot of glucose in them which will exacerbate diarrhea symptoms.

If commercial ORSs are not available, I have read that you can make an emergency
solution as follows:
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• 2 tablespoons honey, sugar, or rice powder
• 1/4 teaspoon potassium chloride (table salt substitute)
• 1/2 teaspoon trisodium citrate (can be replaced by baking soda)
• 1 quart of clean water

Imodium is a trade name for Loperamide. It can be purchased generically for
relatively little cost, at such places as warehouse stores. The generic (house
brands) are just fine. Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin)
as well – for treating fevers. These two antipyretics can be taken together
or on an alternating 4 hour schedule (take each every 4 hours but split them,
for example at 8 AM take acetaminophen, at 10 AM take ibuprofen, etc. This
makes it easier to monitor the patient and get them to drink fluids, if they’re
up every 2 hours they will have to drink some fluids). Either have a traditional
glass thermometer for each person, or a digital thermometer with lots of disposable
sleeves. The thermometers are a couple of bucks at most drug stores. The
sleeves are a buck or so per hundred. Don’t cross-contaminate your patients.

Note: There is a difference of opinion on in medical circles
about suppressing a fever with an non-seasonal influenza. It all depends
on the particular strain. Before
(for children and adults), check the
literature on the current flu strain. If there are widespread reports of "cytokine
" reactions by patients, then suppressing a fever might be
a good thing.

Statistically, the largest group that were killed by the 1918 flu
were 16 to 25 years old–those with the strongest immune systems. Those
patients often died because their bodies fought the virus too vigorously,
in a cytokine
storm. Aspirin can help suppress the response that leads to a cytokine
over-reaction. Again, there is still considerable debate in medical literature
the issue of fever suppression versus the risk of cytokine over-reaction
in treating

Because influenzas are viral rather than bacterial, most antibiotic drugs
(antibacterials) are useless in combating them. If you suspect that you are
coming down with influenza get bed rest! Too many people ignore their symptoms
because "that project at work just has to get done." Not only do
they risk their own health, but they infect their co-workers! Liquids help
ease congestion and loosen phlegm and are of course crucial to rehydration.
Just a fever alone can double your body’s dehydration rate.

Respiratory flus such as the Swine Flu and Asian Avian Flu kill mainly via
congestion. Buy a steam-type vaporizer. Stock up on expectorants containing
main ingredient.

You will need to watch carefully for any symptoms of pneumonia develop. These
include: difficulty or painful breathing, a grunting sound when breathing (quite
distinct from the wheezing of bronchitis or the "barking" of croup),
extremely rapid breathing, flaring nostrils with each breath, or coughing up
rust-colored phlegm. Pneumonia can be a deadly complication of the flu and
is the main cause of flu-related death. It is important to note that pneumonia
is typically a co-infection that can be either viral or bacterial
In case of a bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are crucial for saving
lives. If it is viral, there is not much that can be done. While antibiotics
can clear infection they cannot remove secretions. The patient must cough them
all the way back up the respiratory tract. Do not use cough suppressants–anything
with active ingredients like dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine. A "productive" (wet)
cough that produces phlegm is a good thing! This is where you may need expectorants.
One that works well is Robitussin (the original type of Robitussin without
any capital letters after the name). These are also available as generics,
and quite cheap, so stock up. You should also read up on postural drainage
and percussion techniques for chest secretion clearance–for instances when
your patient cannot or will not cough effectively.

Avoid Exposure

Aside from being actually coughed or sneezed upon by an infected person, the
most common way to catch the flu is by touching something which has been coughed
on or sneezed upon by an infected person. For instance, the person that used
the shopping cart before you had the flu. They covered their mouth with their
hand when they coughed then used that very hand to push the cart around the
store. Now your hands are touching the same place. Without thinking while shopping,
you rub your eye or nose and you have introduce the virus to your most vulnerable
point of infection. When you are out in public do not touch your eyes or nose.
Wash your hands frequently to remove any germs you have picked up. Teach your
children this as well.

Even though the chances of a full scale "nation busting" pandemic
are small, the possibility definitely exists. A full scale pandemic that starts
taking lives on a grand scale may quite reasonably cause you to take some extreme
to protect the lives of your family members. You can cut your chances
of infection by more than half
if you prepare to live in isolation
(a strict "self quarantine") for an extended period of time. You
need to be prepared to avoid all contact with other people during the worst
of the
pandemic. The
self quarantine period might last as much as three years
, as successive
waves of influenza sweep through the country. Think this through, folks. What
would you need to do to successfully quarantine your family? Grab a clipboard
and start making some prioritized lists.

History has shown that infectious diseases do their worst in urbanized regions
So if you can afford to, make plans to move to a lightly populated region, soon.
Where? Read my blog (
for some detailed recommendations, but in general, I recommend moving west
of the Missouri River (because of the
west’s much lighter population density) to a rural, agricultural region. When
looking for a retreat locale, look outside of city limits and away from major
highways that will serve as "lines of drift" for urban refugees.
You are looking for a property that could serve as a self-sufficient farm–something
over five acres, and preferably closer to 40 acres. In the event of a "worst
case" pandemic situation, there is the possibility that power grid could
go down. Even if your farm has well water, you may be out of luck. A home with
gravity fed spring water is ideal, but uncommon. So you will either need to
be able to pump well water by hand–only practical with shallow wells–or be
prepared to treat water
that you’ll draw from open sources: rivers,
creeks, lakes, or ponds.

Plan to live at your retreat year-round. In the event of a full scale pandemic,
the police and military will probably be ordered to enforce draconian quarantines
of cities, counties, or perhaps entire states or regions. Having a well-stocked
retreat is useless if you can’t get to it. Live there, and become
accustomed to getting by self-sufficiently. Plant a big vegetable garden, using
non-hybrid seeds. Raise small livestock that can forage on your own pasture.
Get your digestive system accustomed to consumption of your bulk storage foods.
Home school your kids. Develop a "hunker down" lifestyle with minimal
trips to town. Each trip to town will constitute another opportunity for infection.

To make self-quarantine effective, it is essential that you are prepared to
live in isolation for many months, and possibly years, to avoid contact and
subsequent risk of infection. This can be practical for anyone that is retired
or self-employed in an occupation that does not require regular face to face
contact with clients or customers. (For example home-based mail order, self-publishing,
recruiting, medical/legal transcription, or telecommuting.) But for anyone
else it may mean having to quit your job and live off of your savings. So it
is essential that you get out of debt and start building your savings, ASAP.
If you can possibly change jobs to something that will allow isolation or semi-isolation,
do so as soon as possible. For most of us in the middle class, this may mean "doubling
up" with another family to share resources.

To protect yourself (at least marginally) from infected spittle, wear wrap-around
goggles and buy or fabricate surgical style masks, in quantity. Note that even
an N100 gas mask filter will not stop an airborne virus
, since the
viruses are too small. But at least a cloth mask will give you some protection
from virus-laden spittle. Once the pandemic breaks out in your region, you
won’t look out of place wearing these, even on a trip to the post office. Stock
up on disposable gloves. Note that some individuals are allergic to latex.
So do some extended wear tests before you buy gloves in quantity. Wear gloves
whenever away from your retreat, and wash your hands frequently, regardless.
Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes at all times. Stock up on soap
and bottles of disinfecting hand sanitizer.

Stockpile Key Logistics

To make long term self quarantine effective you will need to buy a large quantity
of long term storage food from a trustworthy vendor. Storage food is bulky
and expensive to ship, so plan to buy locally or rent a truck and travel to
a nearby state to pick up your storage food. In the eastern U.S., I recommend
Ready Made Resources, of Tennessee. (See:
In the western U.S., I recommend Walton Feed of Idaho. (See:
It is also important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity–both
to your neighbors and to any relatives that might end up on your doorstep at
the 11th hour.

Stockpile fuel–firewood, home heating oil, or propane, plus fuel for your
backup generator, vehicles and/or tractor. For liquid fuels, buy the largest
tanks that you can afford to buy and fill, and that are allowable under your
local fire code. If you heat with wood or coal, determine how many cords or
pounds of coal you buy each winter and then triple that amount.

Build a sturdy gate to your driveway and get in the habit of keeping it closed
and locked. It may sound far-fetched, but in the event or a "worst case" you
may have to repel looters by force of arms. Buy plenty of ammo, zero your guns,
and practice regularly. Hurricane Katrina showed how fragile our society is
and how quickly law and order can break down in an emergency. Plan accordingly.

With the consent of your doctor and his prescription, you should stock up
at least moderately on antibiotics such as penicillin and Ciprofloxacin ("cipro")
to fight co-infections. But they should only be
used if it is abundantly clear that a co-infection has set in
. (Again,
watch for pneumonia symptoms.)

There are a few drugs that have been clinically proven to be useful in lessening
the symptoms of viral influenzas, and shortening the duration of illness. These
include Relenza (Zanamivir), Tamiflu (Oseltamivir
phosphate), and Sambucol.
These drugs are used immediately after the onset of flu symptoms. Of the three,
Sambucol–a non-prescription tincture of black elderberry– is probably the
best. I predict shortages of these drugs in coming months, so stock
up while they are still readily available!

Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance

I already mentioned that it is important to lay in extra food to dispense
in charity.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Helping your neighbors
is Biblically sound and builds trustworthy friendships that you can count
on. To avoid risk of infection, you need to be prepared to dispense charity
from a safe distance–without physical contact. Think: planning, teamwork,
and ballistic backup. While your family’s food storage can be in bulk containers
(typically 5 to 7 gallon food grade plastic pails), your charity storage
food should mostly be in smaller containers. Or, at least buy some extra
smaller containers that you can fill and distribute to refugees. Also be
sure to lay in extra gardening seed to dispense as charity. Non-hybrid ("heirloom")
varieties that breed true are available from several vendors including The
Ark Institute. (See:
By dispensing charity you will be helping to restore order and re-establish
key infrastructures. The bottom line is that you’ll be part of the solution
rather than part of the problem.

In closing, I highly recommend that you read Dr.
Grattan Woodson’s monograph "Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic"
available for free download at my blog site. Also see:

Postscript from Reader and Contributor "Dr.

I’m not a big believer in Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) or the other neuraminidase
inhibitors. It’s only demonstrated effect is to make the course of the flu
slightly less long (on the order of 1-2 days less), but it has a critical requirement:
IT MUST BE TAKEN within the first day or two of feeling ill. Most people (myself
included) will just feel a little ‘off’ those first couple of days, or try
to work through it. Tamiflu in this situation is pretty useless. Also, if someone
is going to use it, they MUST have it on hand before they get sick: Getting
the first symptoms, then deciding to call your physician and getting an appointment
to get the prescription the week after next isn’t going to help. Finally, it’s
pretty expensive (a standard 5 day adult dose is around $100 plus the physicians
appointment). It’s also going to be in short supply as people start trying
to get it (similar to Cipro following the anthrax attacks and scares). BTW,
Mom’s old standby for respiratory infections (chicken soup) is as effective
as oseltamivir. I doubt that it would be a good choice for an avian or swine
flu pandemic, though.

I was favorably impressed with a study done in Israel about the efficacy of
Sambucol. At least, it’s not expensive and won’t hurt anything.
So, what should people do? In addition to the suggestions you’ve offered, I
have a few more: If the pandemic strikes, and you can’t avoid going out among
people, wear disposable gloves (they don’t have to be surgical or sterile).
You don’t know who last touched that … whatever (door knob, elevator button,
etc). Carry and use several pair, and learn how to take them off without touching
the outsides (ask a medically trained individual to show you).
Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes! If your hands become contaminated,
don’t transfer the virus to mucous membranes. Wash your hands often (and also,
BEFORE and AFTER using public restrooms, then don’t touch the door knob on
the way out – use an extra paper towel). Hand sanitizer gels are OK but plain
soap and water is fine too. If nothing else is available, a ‘dry wash’ (vigorously
rubbing your hands as though you were soaping them up) is surprisingly effective
in removing the outer dead layer of skin cells that harbor virus particles
or bacteria. It won’t get rid of every single one (nothing will) but it’s a
matter of odds – the fewer, the better.
Teach everyone (especially the dear little germ transport mechanisms we call
children) to cough into their elbow or armpit – NOT to cover their face with
their hands (and then what?) or use a tissue (and then what?). And to wash
their hands afterwards.
I can commend a medical blog that has an excellent article (and link to a free
New England Journal of Medicine article) on avian flu: and -
Dr. November

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor,
and I don’t give medical advice. Mention of any medical device, treatment,
or food
is for educational
only. Consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment or the use
of any drug, food supplement, or medical device. is not responsible
for the use or misuse of any product mentioned.

Copyright 2006-2014. All Rights Reserved by James Wesley, Rawles – Permission
to reprint, repost or forward this article in full is granted
, but
only if it is not edited or excerpted.

About the Author:
James Wesley, Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence
officer and a noted author and lecturer on survival and preparedness topics.
He is the author of "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse" and
is the editor of–the popular daily web journal for prepared
individuals living in uncertain times.

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