Plagues and Pandemics Category

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mr. Rawles: 
I run a health care facility in a particular state.  I’d prefer not to give away all details as I do have access to certain pharmaceutical supplies in the event of certain happenings due to my position in the local community.  But I’ll be as specific as I can be in this forum in the hopes of shedding some light on a recent disaster exercise. 

Local authorities from the state department of health teamed up with numerous statewide personnel from various agencies to conduct a disaster simulation recently that assumed an anthrax attack on the local populace.  It can be debated here as to whether simulating an anthrax attack is the most useful scenario to plan for, or if an EMP or some other event might be more useful in terms of what is most likely to occur.  But I can see where simulating an anthrax attack might also be similar to a significant pandemic event such as a strain of previously unknown flu/virus or a widespread outbreak of a known virus that may simply stop responding to traditional treatments. 

Nevertheless, anthrax is what was decided the simulation would cover.  Under the scenario, multiple health care facilities would receive supplies of the appropriate medications (cipro and doxycycline) and then distribute these to their employee’s and families.  Also a number of other distribution points would be set up for the general public to receive various doses of the drugs.  So, the simulation called for an attack to have taken place and then the main distribution point to be set up.  The volunteers then went through the lines and “meds” were distributed to them.  The simulation was fairly specific as forms were used by each volunteer and on each form was described the age of each family member, whether they could swallow pills, if anyone was under 90 pounds, etc.  The exercise also assumed that certain people would be only Spanish speaking and provisions were made for them.  Security was also a key aspect at the event.  I saw at least 6-8 armed officers there, though in a building as large as what was used, I’d recommend triple that in an actual scenario as people would be quite panicked in all likelihood.

I’ll list what I saw as highlights of what was done well and I’ll also list a few thoughts as to some potential problem areas:
First..what went was fairly well organized, especially given the fact that at least a couple hundred people were involved.  Also, some very key players from around the state were there and brought a good bit of expertise to the table.  The information about anthrax and the medications seemed to be fairly well understood by most of the workers.  And everyone I interacted with was taking it seriously and trying to learn what they could learn. 

Potential drawbacks or problem areas: 
There are no guarantees that all of the ‘workers’ who would help staff such a distribution center would actually show up in a real scenario.  Many might decide to hunker down with families or evacuate the general area if they thought the attack wasn’t widespread.  Thus, what is the contingency for a lack of workers to help with distribution? 

As I mentioned, I thought security assumptions were on the low side.  They may simply have not had enough local resources free that day to send any more.  And their ‘real’ plan may include a much more robust security team, but I can only judge what was visible at the recent exercise. 

While I believe it is good to train and plan for various contingencies, I wonder at the regional/state/local level if the powers that be are doing dry runs of the more likely scenarios.  Is it likely that someone could spread weaponized anthrax over a large area and infect a high number of people?  I don’t know.  I tend to think that some of these agencies, even if aware of EMPs, may not plan for it because deep down they know that there isn’t much planning that can be done due to the likely communications issues, transportation issues, and a general and fast breakdown of all society. 

All in all, I’m glad to have some inside track knowledge of some of these planning strategies but as one observes a large scale exercise like this, it reminds you that it will be exceedingly different and difficult in an actual event and that we can’t be over-prepared in our personal plans at our home or retreat.   
As you recommend many times over, conducting your own training for your family/team/trusted friends related to what each can or may need to do in an actual event is very important.  Assuming you can read a book, article, blog, pamphlet, or watch a video and thus be prepared is very naïve.  I believe you have to shake the dust off and actually get up and around and practice drills, scenarios, and events.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I've come to the conclusion that our worst imaginings of Canadian timber wolves (purposefully introduced to the Lower 48 by do-gooder bureaucrats in 1995) might have been insufficient. To those of us who live in the rural west, these land sharks are well known for their fanged depredations on sheep, cattle, deer, elk, and moose. But their greater menace--at least to humans--might actually be in the form of a tiny tapeworm that they carry: Echinococcus granulosus. This tapeworm was endemic with these wolves, long before they were introduced. Tapeworm cysts have been identified in both Idaho and Montana in recent years, and wolves have been confirmed as definitive hosts and the primary vectors.

Take a few minutes to read this: Two-Thirds of Idaho Wolf Carcasses Examined Have Thousands of Hydatid Disease Tapeworms. Also read this summary and a few of its many linked references.

It bears particular mention that this variety of tapeworm is incurable, except by invasive surgery. (Antiparasitical drugs are ineffective.) And even worse, there is no simple test for infection. Only chest-abdomen scans or whole body scans show "hot spots" where the worms have triggered the formation of cysts. Echinococcosis is not pretty. The Echinococcus granulosus tapeworm cysts are mainly found in the lungs and liver. The tapeworms themselves are just a half inch long, but their cysts are large, ugly, and eventually life threatening, especially in mammals with the longest life spans. (Read: humans.) In some cases they can grow in the heart, the thyroid gland, and although rare, even inside bones and in the brain. I would not like them to start breeding inside my skull. Not good.

The life-cycle Echinococcus eggs and worms is insidious and incremental. The eggs can be viably dormant in the soil for up to 41 months. They can potentially become endemic in a wide variety of mammal populations. Here is just one example: In areas where wolf packs travel, the scat they leave in random locations can be handled by mice and rats that are attracted to the hair that makes up as much as 40% of the scat pellets, by volume. (Rodents actively gather hair, for nesting material.) So they bring the tapeworm eggs home, and are infected. Then the infected rodents get eaten by the local foxes, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, lynx, and mountain lions. And, oh yes, your house cat. Then your sweet little kitty leaves moist deposits in your garden raised beds, or in your child's play sand box. Charming. This is sort of like watching the movie Prometheus, albeit with the critter life cycles in extreme slow motion, and on smaller scale.

I am particularly troubled by the fact that wildlife biologists knew that Canadian timber wolves carried the hydatid tapeworms. (It has been well documented since the 1930s, and was studied in detail in the 1950s.) But because of their enthusiasm, the biologist-activists were silent about it and went ahead and supported the wolf introduction plan. There are some sick puppies out there, and not all of them are canids.

The bottom line: Encourage your state legislators to allow wolf hunting and trapping, to reduce the number of wolf packs. And if you live in wolf country, then DO NOT handle the scat of any predators without wearing gloves and a good quality dust respirator. That includes handling feces from your house cat.

One final parenthetical note: Be on guard for anyone who uses the term "reintroduction" for the introduction Canadian timber wolves in the Lower 48. These wolves were not reintroduced. They are in fact an invasive subspecies. The Canadian timber wolf is a larger subspecies of wolf: Canis lupus occidentalis. The Canadian Timber Wolf (aka Mackenzie River Wolf) can weigh up to 170 pounds and travel up to 70 miles per day. Most of the wolves that originally inhabited the Lower 48 that were extirpated a century ago were the 80 to 110-pound Great Plains Wolf subspecies. (Canis lupus nubilus.) This disparity in part explains the rapid decline of the deer, elk, and moose herds in Idaho and Montana since 2000.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CentOre’s February 7, 2012 article “Signs of the Times: What are the SHTF Tipping Points?” briefly touched on one point that I would like to expand on: Ebola and Marburg viruses.  I am not a physician--I’m not even in the medical field, but I have had the occasion to learn a little more about these viral hemorrhagic fevers (or VHFs) from a research project while pursuing my Bachelor's degree in Emergency Management. The information available on this subject is constantly changing and involves advanced knowledge in a number of scientific disciplines, so what I can provide is just sort of an Intro to Ebola 101.  I know there are people out there who are better trained and more knowledgeable on this topic than I, but maybe this will get the conversation started.  God forbid that one of these plagues should ever come to our shores, but should that happen, I hope this will help SurvivalBlog readers be a little better prepared for it. 

An Ebola Primer

Most of the viral hemorrhagic fevers in the Ebola family originate in sub-Saharan Africa.  The only exception is variant Ebola Reston, which originates in the Philippines. Ebola Reston causes only asymptomatic infections in humans, but devastatingly lethal infections in other primates.  As we will see, it is important in this discussion because it is the only known variant contractible via airborne transmission.  Ebola viral hemorrhagic fevers all begin with fever, body aches, and chills, but soon progress to vomiting, hematemesis, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, hemorrhaging, and often, death.

Marburg virus
A cousin of Ebola, this virus is fatal in up to 90% of human infections.  First identified in Marburg, West Germany in 1967, it came to Behring Laboratory in a shipment of African Green Monkeys. Lab workers became infected while using the monkeys and their tissues in polio research. The outbreak spread into Yugoslavia before it was halted.  In 2007, the Egyptian Rousette, a species of African fruit bat, was identified as the reservoir of the Marburg virus (Institut de Recherche, 2007).   It is a wide ranging, migratory species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the Nile River valley, which brings the primary reservoir into the same area as the major metropolitan areas of Cairo and the Nile River delta (Egyptian Fruit Bat, 2003).  These cities are a mere six hours by air to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, and twelve to New York’s JFK airport. Or as Dr. Robert Swanepoel of the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases stated in 2006, "Los Angeles is as close to Ebola as Kinshasa [Democratic Republic of the Congo] with air travel," (Stoddard, 2006).  Air travel has already brought Ebola to our doorstep. 

Ebola Zaire
Identified in 1976 during an outbreak around Yambuku, Zaire, this variant killed 88% of those infected, making its lethality virtually equal with that of Marburg. The reservoirs of this and all other known variants of Ebola have not been identified, in spite of decades of effort.
Ebola Sudan
Near simultaneously with the above Ebola Zaire outbreak, a second Ebola outbreak occurred in the Nazara and Maridi areas of Sudan in 1976.  The infective agent in this outbreak was also identified as Ebola, but a less aggressive variant, killing only 53% of those infected.

Ebola Bundibugyo
The first outbreak of this variant occurred in the Bundibugyo district of Uganda in December 2007 through January 2008. Ebola Bundibugyo differs significantly from other Ebola variants in that it causes more vomiting and was fatal in only 25% of infections.  Its presentation departed so much from previous expectations that only after laboratory analysis was it identified in August 2008 as a new Ebola strain (Powhall, 2007).

Ebola Tai/Cote D’Ivoire/Ivory Coast
 In November 1994, a Swiss ethologist contracted the fever while performing a necropsy on a chimpanzee found in the Tai National Forest in Ivory Coast. She had used poor barrier protection, and was most likely infected by aerosolized fluids during the necropsy. She was later transported to Switzerland for treatment, and made a full recovery after six weeks. In spite of transportation and treatment without strict isolation, no other human cases occurred (Waterman, 1999).

Ebola Reston
As noted above, Reston causes only asymptomatic infections in humans. Researchers discovered it during a 1989 outbreak at a primate quarantine facility in Reston, Virginia. A second outbreak occurred soon after at another primate quarantine facility in Alice, Texas.  No human illnesses or deaths resulted from the few human infections that occurred.  During the outbreaks, primates housed in different sections from the infected primates soon contracted the virus as well.  Since there was no contact between these groups and the second group had been in quarantine beyond the incubation
period for Ebola, it appears that this variant is communicable through airborne transmission.


Recombinant viruses
Samples of Ebola Zaire obtained from six dead gorillas and a chimpanzee were found to have different genetic sequences.  In other words, Ebola viruses are capable of recombination, a capability seen rarely in RNA viruses and never before seen in filoviruses (Mackenzie, 2007). Remember the “milder” Ebola variants Bundibugyo and Tai, and airborne but asymptomatic Reston?  Should any of them find their way into a common host with one of the fiercely pathogenic Zaire, Sudan, or Marburg variants, recombination could occur and result in a slower burning but just as deadly new variant of Marburg, or a murderous and airborne variant of Zaire. Had that been the case in Reston, Virginia or Alice, Texas, instead of a few dead Macaques, the result could have been much worse, perhaps even TEOTWAWKI. 
Increasing risk to North America
Ebola has long been in intermittent scourge in sub-Saharan Africa, and has extended it reach into Europe once.  It has not been a major concern to North America for a couple of reasons: 1) outbreaks tend to occur deep in the African bush, and 2) the disease is so aggressively pathogenic that it kills its carriers before they can spread the disease further.  As illustrated above, the potential for an emerging, less aggressive variant is an ever-present risk.
Sub-Saharan Africans have been immigrating to Europe in record numbers. Such immigration to France doubled between 1982 and 1990. By 2005, the African immigrant population of metropolitan France was an estimated 3.6 million (ISEE, 2005). This growth has triggered a rapidly growing demand for illegal bush meat, any of which could carry one of the Ebola viruses or some as-of-yet unidentified hemorrhagic virus.  And it isn’t just Europe’s problem. The black market bush meat trade is a growing problem in the United States and Canada (BCTF, 2009). Anyone who handles Ebola-infected bush meat is likely to contract that disease, and likely to transmit it to others as it progresses through vomiting, hemorrhaging, and death.

Carrier states
According to the Special Pathogens Branch of the Centers for Disease Control, Ebola viruses have no carrier state; that is that there can be no “Typhoid Mary” of Ebola—no person who carries an infective form of the virus yet has no symptoms (CDC, 2009).  While it may seem like sophomoric hubris for one to differ with the CDC on the issue of disease, research indicates that their position may not necessarily be accurate.
Research performed during two outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in northern Gabon in 1996 discovered that “asymptomatic, replicative Ebola infection can and does occur in human beings” (Leroy et al, 2000, p. 2210). This same research demonstrated that there were no genetic differences between the Ebola strains found in symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, indicating that that the cases were not the result of viral mutation.  This raises the ugly probability of the Ebola version of Typhoid Mary; persons without the disease but still infected and very much infective.  A further complication arises during convalescence after acquiring Ebola, as viable virus has been isolated from the seminal fluid of convalescing Ebola victims two to three months after the disease has resolved (Leroy et al, 2000, p. 2210).  It is therefore only prudent to assume that Ebola is also sexually transmitted.

Another potential carrier of Ebola viruses are dogs.  During the Ebola outbreak in Gabon in 2001-2002, research was conducted on pet dogs in the area of the outbreaks. Blood samples were taken from dogs living in areas where outbreaks had occurred, major cities, and as a control, dogs in France. In short, testing on the dogs showed an increase in seroprevalence of Ebola as a function of their distance from the outbreak areas. Villages in the outbreak area with an animal source, such as a dead primate, also had the highest level of seroprevalence when compared to villages without an animal source, major cities, and the dogs in France (Allela, Bourry, Pouillot, Delicat, Yaba, Kumulugui, 2005). The researchers concluded that the dogs had been infected with the Ebola Zaire virus that circulated in that area, and that the infections had been either extremely mild, or completely asymptomatic. During these asymptomatic infections, dogs “may excrete infectious viral particles in urine, feces, and saliva for a short period before virus clearance” (Allela et al, 2005, p.389). Ebola is a highly infective pathogen requiring exposure to relatively few virus particles to produce symptoms.  An affectionate lick from an asymptomatic dog might be all it takes to contract the disease.

Implications for the Prepper

The sooner you can pick the truth out of the media noise the more time and distance you can put between the generally diseased public and yourself.  Amidst all the media sensationalizing and the government bowdlerizing, listen for a confluence of these reported symptoms. Parenthetical figures are percent of known historical cases reporting each symptom.

  • Fever (90%-100%)
  • Headache (40%-90%)
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain/joint pain (40%-80%)
  • Malaise (75%-85%)
  • Pharyngitis (20%-40%)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting (59%)
  • Vomiting blood (10%-40%)
  • Non-bloody diarrhea (81%)
  • Blood fails to clot (71%-78%)
  • Abdominal pain (60-80%)
  • Dry and sore throat (63%)
  • Chest pain (83% of Ebola Sudan infected patients; uncommon in Ebola Zaire infected patients)
  • Abnormal susceptibility to bleeding—hemorrhagic diathesis (71%-78%)
  • Maculopapular rash—flat, red rash with raised bumps (5%-20%)
  • Hiccups (15 %)      (Waterman, 1999)


 Your first order of business should be to create distance between you and the GDP as you can as quickly as possible. If ever there was justification to withdraw to your retreat, this is it. The CDC and local health departments will be scrambling to isolate and identify this beast, but it could be weeks before they even know what they are dealing with.  If you don’t have your own piece of the American Redoubt, then quarantine yourself and yours from the rest of the population as best you can. Barring some god awful mutation, Ebola is not airborne, so if you can keep people from coughing, sneezing, bleeding, vomiting, secreting, or doing any other kind fluid-slinging on you, you will be safe. 

Since dogs are likely capable of becoming “Typhoid Mutley” and carrying Ebola, keep stray or feral dogs away from your location. Obviously you don’t want anything that is infected spattering or bleeding around your retreat, so if you can passively exclude dogs and any other carnivores and omnivores from your location with fencing or other measures, it might help prevent you having to kill them within your perimeter.  Also, take care to keep your animals away from strays or wild animals, and don’t let them nose around animal carcasses or droppings. I could not find any information regarding Ebola and native North American wildlife, but the possibility of other animals becoming carriers is a real concern.  Keep this in mind as you go about your daily routine.

If Ebola hits home:
With an incubation period of up to three weeks, going into retreat mode and taking Ebola with you is a possibility.  What if, in spite of all your precautions and preparations, somebody in your group develops Ebola?
At the time of this writing, there are no set treatments for acute Ebola, aside from supportive care in managing hydration, electrolytes, oxygen, and blood pressure. Maintaining the comfort of the patient as best as possible is important, as is doing what can be done to improve their chances of survival and recovery. Due to the extreme pathogenicity of Ebola, extraordinary care must be taken to avoid contamination or infection of others.  Below are the bare minimum of what precautions you should take to protect yourself and the rest of your group while there is an active Ebola infection.

  • Isolation
  • Quarantine
  • Barriers
  • Bleach
  • Burning


Isolation of the symptomatic Ebola patient from the rest of the group. Time in the isolation “ward” should be  minimized as much as possible while still maintaining humane and compassionate care.

Quarantine of exposed persons until the maximum incubation period for Ebola has elapsed (21 days). This means any person believed to have had any direct contact with any amount of bodily fluids from the patient.

Barrier protection for any person caring for the patient or handling anything used by the patient.  The bare acceptable minimum of protection is a face shield that covers the eyes, nose, and mouth; mask, gloves, gown, foot covering, and hood.  You don’t have to have a positive pressure biohazard suit (although that would be ideal). The goal is to keep bodily fluid from touching you being inhaled or ingested.

Bleach the soles of the shoes when leaving the ward by walking through a pan of bleach solution. Spray down the barrier protection with bleach solution before removing it.

Burn contaminated clothing, medical waste, and anything else not reusable. This is not the time to try to conserve medical supplies by reusing disposable supplies. Re-use of disposables was a primary vehicle of spreading Ebola in the earlier African outbreaks.

The CDC has a detailed manual covering infection control procedures for Ebola. It is available as a PDF download from its web site, as well as are other resources. It might be a good idea to have that manual saved on your TEOTWAWKI flash drive and a couple of hard copies printed out, just in case. The manual can be found at:

Putting familiarization with Ebola and other possible agents of pandemic on your preparation list, and adding some basic barrier and infection control supplies to your stockpile should help you gain an edge over any such outbreaks. With adequate preparation and help from the Almighty, you can make it through an Ebola crisis.


Allela, L., Bourry, O., Pouillot, R., Delicat, A., Yaba, P., & Kumulungui, B. (2005). Ebola virus antibody prevalence in dogs and human risk. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11, Retrieved April 15, 2008, from

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, (2009).  United States and Canada in “Regions affected.” Retrieved February 18, 2012 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2010, April 9). Ebola hemorrhagic fever information packet. Retrieved February 18, 2012, from CDC Special Pathogens Branch Web site:

Deadly Ebola virus can mutate, French scientists warn. (2007, November 30). Agence France-Presse. Retrieved February 20, 2012 at

Egyptian fruit bat. The centre for the conservation of specialized species. (May, 2003). Retrieved on April 10, 2007 from

Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (2007, September 11). Marburg virus identified in a species of fruit bat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from

INSEE, (2005). Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques - France - statistiques. Retrieved April 9, 2008, from Le recensement de la population Web site:

Leroy, E. M., Baize, S., Volchkov, V. E., Fisher-Hoch, S. P., Georges-Courbot, M-C, & Lansoud-Soukate, J. (2000). Human asymptomatic Ebola infection and strong inflammatory response. The Lancet. 355, 2210-2215.

Mackenzie, D. (November 2, 2007). Ebola evolves deadly new tricks. Virgin Media, Retrieved March 26, 2008, from

Parker, J. N., Parker, P. M. The official patient’s sourcebook on Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Icon Health Publications, 2003.

Powhall, K. (2007, December 6). Ugandan health workers hit by Ebola, causing panic. The Seattle Times, Retrieved March 28, 2009, from

Stoddard, E. (June 19, 2006).  Ebola could follow bush meat trade routes to west. Reuters, Retrieved February 19, 2012, from

Waterman, T. (1999). Tara’s Ebola site: Honors thesis Stanford University. Retrieved on February 15, 2012 from . This site is also a good source of information on Ebola.

World Health Organization, (2007). Ebola haemorrhagic fever. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from WHO Media Center Web site:

JWR Adds: One of the surest preventative measures for diseases spread by human contact is isolation. I have long recommended moving to farming or ranching country in the American Redoubt region. (Even before I gave it that name.) Ponder these population statistics (as of 2011):

Idaho: 1,568,000

Wyoming: 563,000

Montana: 989,000

Eastern Oregon: Approximately 300,000

Eastern Washington: Approximately 450,000

Total Population of The American Redoubt: Approximately 3,870,000


Tennessee: 6,403,353

Virginia: 8,096,604

Michigan: 9,876,187

New York (Entire State): 19,465,000

Queens County, New York: 2,230,750

Bronx County, New York:1,385,100

Thus, the combined population of The American Redoubt is about the same as just two boroughs of New York City.

The bottom line: If you want to survive a pandemic spread by casual contact, then your best chances will be in lightly-populated places like the American Redoubt region. Just be sure to stock up on plenty of storage food and fuel, so that you won't have to make any trips to town for the first 18 months of a pandemic.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I’ve been fortunate to live in the same general area for my entire adult life, the Rocky Mountains of Utah. I am very familiar with the area made more so by various employments, a variety of interests all centered around the outdoors and twenty years of being a Scout Master. Being familiar with my surroundings for a long period of time increases my knowledge base of useful things to know, information unique to my immediate surroundings.
I have always been curious and a great observer, of both people and things.  Some years ago my brother mentioned something to me when we were talking about being prepared if anything big should happen. At the time he worked for a national car wash company, traveling around the region inspecting various car washes.  He said he didn’t need to store a fresh water supply because all of the car washes have enormous tanks of fresh water underground; most have more than 2,000 gallons. People didn’t know this so he figured he could use these as a source for fresh water. 
A light bulb went off in my head. This conversation was the start of what I call my Long Term Situational Awareness. I am always on the look out for information that could help me if I have to G.O.O.D. or heaven forbid if TEOTWAWKI happens; information, places and people that I store away in my data banks so I don’t have to figure it out on the run. For example the water tanks underneath car washes, I might have figured that out eventually, but now I know right where to head.
Here are some of the things I have made mental notes about that I think will give me an edge.  Maybe you can keep an eye out for this stuff in your immediate vicinity.  The longer you are in the same area, the more information you can collect.  The more stuff you know, the better your odds are of getting out and surviving.
: Where I live we our bound on the West by a harsh desert environment, not a good escape route.  To the East are mountains, which I know intimately from hunting and camping, especially every paved and dirt road in an out of them for fifty miles. It would take several road blocks to prevent me from getting where I wanted to go if I choose to go that direction.  This direction is my choice if evasion or defense is the highest priority.  

There is only one North South freeway, which of course would prove completely useless. A bottle neck of both surface streets and alternate routes to the South make this direction a bad choice.  To the North, a bottle neck of alternate routes is still passable but not ideal. A little known closed rail road line, (Google Earth is a great source to start looking for these kinds of routes.) is only blocked by a flimsy gate. It bypasses the bottleneck by twenty miles.  A friend showed me this years ago as an access to some hunting ground.  I realized its other potential as an escape route and have never forgotten it. If I have to bug out, I’m going north.  
FOOD: We all know the grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants will be looted first.  I’ve noted several places that might be over looked at least during the first few days. I keyed in an idea several years ago that anyplace that serves meals to large groups of people will have stores of food.  

There are two small convention centers within five miles of my house.  They are not in a retail, shopping or restaurant area, they are in the office and business districts.  I go to both several times a year.  Every night of the week they cook and serve dinner for several hundred people. The convention centers have storage rooms and commercial kitchens that will probably be overlooked in the first few days [of a societal collapse].
Any place with a snack bar, especially in an overlooked area, is a great source for food supplies.  I know of three indoor soccer arenas with snack bars.  All are in warehouse and industrial areas. All of them have snack bars and I’ve noted where the storage rooms are for the snack bars.  Two of the soccer arenas are on my bug out route.

The last several years I have seen an explosion of small gyms, many in strip malls and professional office districts.  Nearly all of these small gyms have supplies of nutrition and protein bars, bottled water and re-hydration drinks. Most will be overlooked the first few days.
Most Boy Scout camps store and cook food for hundreds of people everyday. I know of at least a dozen scout camps along different travel routes.

We have three, regional food distribution centers. These will be hit hard, but I know where they are and won’t have to look for them in the telephone book. What might be overlooked are the restaurant food supply companies. Not only might their warehouses be missed at first, some people might walk right pass a SYSCO semi truck and not realize it is filled with food. One semi truck from a restaurant supplier and I’m set.  I know the names of all the suppliers and their logos.  
:  Two miles from my home is a warehouse complex with over two hundred companies and a thousand semi-trucks, all with big fuel tanks, going in and out every day. It will obviously be looted, but it is so large the out lying trucks and smaller ware houses will go unnoticed at first.
Excavator companies and large construction companies often store their own fuel
. I’ve hired several of these companies and have identified three that are located in areas that may be easily overlooked.

There is farmland all around me.  Many farmers store fuel.  This would be a last resort for me because they also have guns, know how to shoot, are willing to shoot and if any group will survive WTSHTF it will be farmers.

A few random notes I’ve taken over the years in case I find myself in TEOTWAWKI situation. I know where three large sheep herds and two large herds of cattle graze in the summer. I know where a high-fence elk hunting outfit is located with 300 head of elk. I know of three small residential subdivisions in the mountains that are self sustaining, on there own wells and solar powered. I know of three large snowmobiling lodges in the mountains that are self sustaining.  They are virtually abandoned six months out of the year.  I know where a small, private fish farm, surrounded by a hundred fruit trees can be found two miles past a locked gate. I know where all of the wildlife resources fish hatcheries are. I know where a rancher has sixty head of domesticated buffalo penned in a remote mountain valley.
All of these observations have taken no extra time and effort, simply the realization that someday I may need to know this stuff and it would be a good idea to remember them.  Keep your eyes and ears open, you never know what will pop out at you if you’re looking for it.   You never know what piece of information you store in your data banks will give you the critical edge.

JWR Adds: Most of the foregoing would only be appropriate in the aftermath of a situation with massive depopulation, such as a pandemic. In anything lesser, appropriating "abandoned" supplies would simply be unconscionable theft, because those supplies would still have rightful owners. There have also been several discussions in SurvivalBlog about the inadvisability of crossing private land that belong to someone else. Even worse is shooting someone's livestock. In essence, that is just a good way to get yourself ventilated, in the event of a societal collapse. I have posted this just to show SurvivalBlog readers one sort of threat that they will face. It is encapsulates the horribly astray and ill-advised "justified looting" mentality. Keep plenty of .308 ammo on hand. You may need it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Spike In Severe H1N1 in Memphis, Tennessee Children "...the traditional flu season is beginning, which will likely lead to emergence of a new swine H1N1 strain."

H1N1 Fatality Rate in Memphis Children Raises Concern "The flu season in the US traditionally peaks in February or March, so the increases seen in Memphis may represent the start of a dramatic rise in severe and fatal cases. Seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 have virtually disappeared in much of the northern hemisphere including the United States, so pandemic H1N1 variants will likely emerge in the next few weeks."

H1N1 School Closings in Donetsk, Ukraine "Of the 30 cases with D225G/N, 29 were from fatal cases. This high fatality rate raises concerns that an increase in D225G/N levels will lead to a pronounced increase in severe or fatal H1N1 cases and reports of school closings in Donetsk due to a rise in cases raises concerns that the number of fatalities will significantly increase in the near term."

Initial H1N1 Attack Rate Raises Pandemic Concerns "In many areas which had two waves, the target population of the second wave was somewhat older, suggesting a high percentage of the under 65 population was infected with H1N1. This widespread immunity will put pressure on the virus to grow at higher levels or escape from the immune response, leading to concerns of a more severe upcoming wave."

WHO slams swine flu critics as 'irresponsible'

Swine flu still spreading in Ireland--but slowing

CDC Chart: Swine flu peak has passed. (BTW, the CDC Weekly updates are worth watching.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The BBC is doing another pandemic flu documentary, this one centered on Los Angeles. I did some video stuff for them last fall. I got a call just before Christmas from the Times of London wanting to interview me about the documentary. The BBC reporter said I was apparently the most depressing man in the world, but I told her she should talk to you! Regards, - Michael Bane, Producer, DownRange.TV

Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

CDC Now Says There are Likely 4,000 Swine Flu Deaths in the US. This is 4x what they had been reporting.

Ukraine Dead at 213; Still No Sequences From WHO 1,192,481 Influenza/ARI; 62,462 Hospitalized

WHO Appeals to Ukraine for Help with Hemorrhagic Pneumonia

Senators Debate Requiring Paid Sick Leave for Workers with Flu

11 Die of H1N1 in War-Ravaged Afghanistan

Cheryl sent this article auto-translation link: Belarusian doctors: "Swine flu triggers a deadly form of pneumonia disease"

...and this data from the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

Cheryl also did some digging and found this: Norway: 300,000 Infected. Doubling of cases has occurred, they are watching for the hemorrhagic pneumonia that occurred in Ukraine

Friday, November 13, 2009

Andre sent this from Radio Nederland: Madagascar! Slovakia closes borders with flu-hit Ukraine

Bobbi-Sue mentioned that respected surgeon and fiction author Robin Cook thinks a mix of avian and swine flu could be the next global plague on the scale of the Black Death. In a piece in Foreign Policy magazine, he details why.

Belarus Has 1/4 Million Swine Flu Cases

Suspect H1N1 Death in Romania on Border With Ukraine

US Pandemic Options Include Crippling Home Modems

WHO Silence On Ukraine Sequences Raise Pandemic Concerns "In the days post shipment, cases in Ukraine have quadrupled to over 1 million and the reported fatalities have grown from 30 to 174. The clinical presentation of 90 of the fatalities was classical H1N1 linked hemorrhagic pneumonia, which led to the "total destruction" of both lungs. These fatal cases were hospitalized 3-7 days after disease onset, highlighting the rapid progression of the infection in a large number of patients, suggesting genetic changes in the H1N1 virus."

Over 2,000 Health Care Workers In Ukraine Ill

1918 RBD Polymorphisms In Ukraine H1N1

Ukraine: Over 1 Million Cases

WHO: Animals Need to Be Closely Monitored for Flu. Swine flu found in Denmark mink.

Spread of Swine Flu in Ireland "Intense"

Monday, November 9, 2009

Amid shortage, big NYC firms get swine vaccine. Reader Garth S. (who sent us the article link) asks: "So is this how it works? I get six zeros behind my salary and I can get to the front of the line?"

World First As Swine Flu Found in US Cat

Critically Ill Swine Flu Patients Spend Weeks in ICU

Scandal: NHL Team Gets Priority Flu Shots

WHO Targets Hemorrhagic H1N1 Cases in Lviv, Ukraine. So, assuming that his is a new, more lethal strain, I'm led to ask: Will contracting the current mild strain circulating in the US protect someone from contracting the new strain?

National Swine Flu Pandemic Called in Bulgaria. "Spikes in deaths have already been reported in Turkey and Italy, although none have approached the numbers reported in Ukraine, where influenza/[Acute respiratory infection] (ARI) cases are approaching 1 million, and will likely surpass that number in the next report. The explosion of cases in Ukraine raise concerns that the H1N1 virus has subtly changed, with associated increase in cases and deaths."

Majority of Californians to Ignore Late Swine Flu Vaccine

Withheld Ukraine Swine Flu Sequences Raise Pandemic Concerns. "[T]he rapid spread of H1N1 in Ukraine... ...coupled with the high frequency of hemorrhagic pneumonia raise concerns that a small change is leading to a more virulent virus."

Reported Cases in Ukraine Double Again

Canada: No Life Insurance for a Year if You Get Swine Flu!

How to Minimize Your Risk of Getting Swine Flu

Banks' H1N1 Flu Vaccines Stir Outrage. Protests mount that Goldman Sachs, CitiBank, JPMorgan and others have the vaccine amid shortage

H1N1 Swine Flu Deaths Highest in 50 and Older Once Hospitalized. The overall death rate of those hospitalized (the worst cases, often with underlying health issues) is 11%

Polish PM: Poland Not Buying Swine Flu Vaccination Unless it Has Been Properly Tested

WHO Says Swine Flu Virtually in Every Country on Earth

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Reader Karl B. sent this new item that he spotted on a news wire, dated 29 October: Unidentified virus kills 30 in western Ukraine. Since I was unable to find a link to the English translation of the piece (originally from a Kiev television outlet), I've decided to post it in full:

[Presenter] An unknown deadly virus has taken lives of over 30 people in western Ukraine. The preliminary diagnosis is viral pneumonia. The results of analyses are to be made public early next week. According to the latest statistics, some 12 people died in Ternopil Region, 11 in Lviv Region and six in Ivano-Frankivsk Region. The decease has spread to other regions. Another three people died of viral pneumonia in Chernivtsi, and two in Rivne Region. The Health Ministry has called on people to call at hospitals immediately if they have any symptoms of pneumonia. Prime Minister [Yuliya Tymoshenko] plans to start playing audio clips with this information on the radio.

[Health Minister Vasyl Knyazevych] Today the doctors are ready and they know how to provide emergency treatment [of pneumonia], but the main issue is the timeliness of visiting the doctor. We are already able to detect if this is the so called flu virus, if this is our traditional flu or if it is the California flu, H1N1, the so called swine flu, as we call it. This will be confirmed.

[The UNIAN news agency at 1037 GMT quoted Knyazevych as saying that among people diagnosed with viral pneumonia were those of working age and pregnant women. He said that the best health care experts in Ukraine had been sent to western Ukraine to help tackle the spread of the virus]."

SurvivalBlog reader John in Ohio sent us a link to a Wall Street Journal follow-up: Swine Flu Fears Grip Ukraine

Now They're Calling it Hemorrhagic

Global Uptick In Swine Flu Deaths

China Warns it Faces Severe Challenges in Combating H1N1 Swine Flu

Ukraine in Panic Over Swine Flu

Four Ukraine Doctors Dead of Swine Flu

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

From Heather H.: Hand Washing No Defense Against Swine Flu

FDA Approves Vaccines for Swine Flu (But there are lots of doubts about the safety of the vaccine. Do some research before taking the jab!)

H1N1 Brings Early Flu Season to Colleges, Public Schools

Canada anger at 'flu body bags' Canada's health minister orders an inquiry after body bags are sent to aboriginal communities as part of swine flu preparations.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

WHO warns of severe form of swine flu. The article begins: "Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organization said on Friday. Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients infected with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need hospital care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic."

Gregor spotted this in an Australian newspaper: “Swine Flu Spreading at ‘unbelievable’ rate: WHO Chief”

Swine Flu's Worst Case Scenario: Paranoia or Preparedness?

One company is diligently preparing for the worst case H1N1 Flu scenario with promising results

Fearing flu, Vermont fair cancels all swine events

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DHS Warns H1N1 "Could cause serious disruption of social and medical capacities in our country ..."

H1N1 Could Kill as Many as 30,000 to 90,000 in U.S., Report Says. [JWR's comment: If you have been debating taking your kids out of public school and homeschooling, then in my opinion the projected deaths for H1N1 should be the deciding factor. But for some numerical perspective, consider these two figures. 1.) The"usual" seasonal influenzas claims around 30,000 lives annually in the US, primarily among the elderly. 2.) It took fifteen years of the Vietnam conflict to kill about 58,000 American, mostly aged 18 to 25.]

"Chicago Dude" sent us links to a two part C-Span video on a conference on H1N1 swine flu held in Washington DC: Part 1, and Part 2.

Hospitals May Face Severe Disruption From Swine Flu. JWR Adds: Just wait until the small supply of available ventilators is overwhelmed. I've been warning about this since 2006!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reader Pete A. sent us a link to an updated interactive map: Tracking the global spread of swine flu

First Wave of Swine Flu Peaks in UK

Mexico registers big jump in swine flu cases

Swine Flu Strategy Under Revision "U.S. authorities will release within days other 'community-mitigation"'measures, intended to help keep businesses operating, help hospitals avoid being overwhelmed and guide local authorities in deciding whether to cancel public events, officials said."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Joan M. sent this: WHO says flu pandemic spreading too fast to count. "...the H1N1 flu pandemic has been the fastest-moving pandemic ever and that it is now pointless to ask countries to count every case."

Britain prepares for 65,000 deaths from swine flu

Swine Flu Threatens Muslim Hajj Season

Swine Flu to force 1 in 8 to take time off work sick

Swine flu sweeping world at 'unprecedented speed': WHO "In past pandemics, influenza viruses have needed more than six months to spread as widely as the new H1N1 virus has spread in less than six weeks."

Swine Flu: Why You Should Still Be Worried

Experts: Swine Flu Is Waning, Will Return In The Fall

Friday, July 17, 2009

LJ in England sent us this: Swine flu deaths in Britain soar to 29 as 12 die in four days

Andrew in England sent this from Yahoo UK: Pandemic threat 'worse than terror'

From Cheryl: Great Pandemic Flu of 2009 is Coming and No One Can Stop It! Cheryl's comment: "This is a 2006 novel, Another Place to Die by Sam North, called a blueprint for survival tips for the coming pandemic. Worth checking out. It might deserve a place next to Patriots."

SR recommended this: Fight for swine flu vaccine could get ugly

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dear Jim and Family,
I recently read your book "Patriots". It was a great read and really scared me too. it brought to light all of fears I have in the back of my mind on how fragile society is and our economy. It is spurring me into action now although it will have to wait as I am deploying to Afghanistan in the next couple of months.

I just read your section on the Swine Flu and the question of N95 masks and wearing them. As an 11-year veteran career firefighter and sergeant in the Army National Guard, I felt I needed to inform your readers of one glaring life and death point about those masks that is being missed: You need to be fit tested for any mask, the word mask is a misnomer, they are respirators, if they don't fit right, they won't work. When it comes to diseases don't accept anything less than a 100% fit. Not all masks work for all people, I'm sure you and your wife aren't the same size, for example. Also, if you go on the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) web site there is Flu Pandemic information. The IAFF also recommends P100 masks, not N95 masks. This is because the P100s catch pretty much 100% of the [2 micron or larger ] particulates, so they are the best bang for your buck. Also a P100 is a long duration use filter, by that I mean, as the filter gets more and more saturated it will get harder and harder to breathe. The mask could be used for a day or a couple of days if need be. P100 masks are made by Moldex [, 3M, and several other makers] and sell for about $40.00 for a five-pack.

I live in Stamford Connecticut right outside New York City (NYC) and work for a large Fire Department. I fit test all 300 guys every year and about 20 size changes occur each year due to weight loss or gain. Hence another reason to be fit tested. I hope that this sheds some light on the issue of a proper-fitting mask.

Be Well, Stay Safe, and with God most of all, - SGT Joe L.

An N95 or N100 mask is actually only good for a few hours of use. Once they become saturated with water from your breath, they loose their effectiveness as well as become a health hazard that makes it easy to literally asphyxiate you. The wet keeps air from going through that part of the mask and you end up breathing the air that makes it past the seal between your face and your mask. Also those of you (like me) with facial hair, out comes the razor. If you plan on spending a long time out in public during what ever the epidemic of the day is, you should carry several. This is good advice to those that have bought a single box of them and consider themselves "prepared". The best bet during a pandemic is just to stay at your retreat, away from others.. N100 masks are quite expensive even by the box and are the best choice. N95s will do if you don't have any N100s. - Frank B on the Border

Referencing the letter: Recent Experience with an N95 Protective Mask: This may be a case of "pilot error". The standard N95 mask has a bad reputation, as a retailer of N95 masks there are several drawbacks to these masks, they are:

* Fit
* Filter
* And Fouling

First let's look at fit, because they are designed as a one-size-fits-all consumer product they obviously don't fit every face, and they tent to gap around the edges, especially if making facial movement like talking.

Second, the filter material they are using is deemed "to stop "95% of all particulate matter larger than 2 microns". There are several articles that show the manufacturers use every conceivable way to make their product match those standards and few of them are on actual human test subjects. [(The tests are done with mechanical test fixtures with tight edge seals.)]

Third and most important as your letter writer pointed out is "Fouling". With out an exhalation port the filter material becomes clogged with the water vapor you breathe out. This then forces you to either force your air in and out through an increasingly "full" mask or more likely, breathe around the gaps in the mask, making it completely ineffective.

Then you may be asking "Why buy them if they don't work"? Well the truth of the matter is that they do work, if you use them correctly and for the right reasons. The inexpensive N95 masks come in boxes of 20. That is so that you change them often. With heavy use, i.e. heavy breathing, they should be changed at least once an hour. The greatest utility for these masks is to help you to not touch your nose and mouth with your hands!

Although the Flu virus can be airborne, you are far more likely to get it by touching a contaminated surface like a door knob, stair rail, or a grocery cart handle [and then unconsciously touching your face]. So for that purpose they do a great job.

There are more expensive disposable masks on the market, (Those made by Triosyn are the best in my opinion, although very expensive and hard to find.)

Don't count out the great standby, the N95, I stand by them, but only if they are used correctly! - Kory

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

The good news on H1N1 (commonly called Swine Flu) is that in current strains the death rate appears to be as low as 1 in 2,000 infections, at least in First World countries with modern hospital facilities. The bad news is that at least 60% of world's population is expect to contract the bug, and that further mutations are probable.

The Mutation Question

Mutations to less virulent strains are the historic norm for viruses but there is the risk of one that is very deadly. (To explain: in the grand scheme of things, a mutation with high lethality is is not good for a virus. Some, like Marburg and Ebola, have had strains that were so deadly that the hosts didn't live long enough to pass it along to a large number of new carriers. The most successful viruses are the ones that propagate well, but do not kill too many of their hosts.) We can surmise that the absolute "worst case" for H1N1 is that a much more lethal strain emerges, to be followed by a global infection, and a large-scale die-off. But again, that is the less likely outcome.

The Cytokine Storm Question

Up until recently, I agreed with SurvivalBlog reader "L. Jean" in England who in an e-mail last week noted that we were "still waiting to find out if it's a cytokine storm that kills or not." This is a determining factor whether young, healthy folks should try to boost their immune response, or whether that might make matters worse. Based on the latest literature, I believe that it is now safe to say that with H1N1 a cytokine over-reaction is indeed a substantial risk, and could be a bigger killer than the virus itself. So my updated advice is to continue to store immunity boosters, but not use them to treat H1N1 unless you are Imuno-suppressed. Otherwise healthy patients in ages between 18 and 50 should refrain from doing so. I have updated my article on influenza pandemics, accordingly.

The Immunization Question

There is a vaccine for H1N1 in development, but it has been put on a radically fast track for development and trials. This has raised concerns about contamination and efficacy. Since the strain chosen for the immunization is both a "snapshot" and a "best guess" about what strain will be circulating next winter in the northern hemisphere, and there will only be limited animal testing to rule out pathogenicity. So there are some critics that argue that the vaccine might pose more of risk than the flu itself. It is also noteworthy that the vaccination program will require multiple injections for each patient. In my opinion, it is not yet clear whether the risks will outweigh the benefits. For some of my readers this won't be a matter of choice. Both Canada and the UK have announced their intent to implement universal inoculation programs.

The Madagascar Question

In the well-known computer game Pandemic II, the president of the island nation of Madagascar is quick to isolate the country to prevent the advent of a pandemic. This has become a standing joke among gamers, and the term "Madagascar" has migrated into the epidemiology community. "Going Madagascar" is essentially slamming the doors shut, in the hopes of avoiding infection. (BTW, I know of at least two survival retreat groups that use "Madagascar" as their activation codeword, a-la the novel Alas, Babylon .) As I noted previously, the "worst case" for any virus is that a very lethal strain emerges, and rapidly spreads globally, as depicted in the novel (and television series) Survivors  by Terry Nation. The spread of H1N1 via modern jet air travel illustrated just how quickly this could happen. H1N1 has already spread throughout the United States. So I stand by my oft-quoted advice: In such an event you need to be ready and able to isolate your family for an extended period of time. Essentially, you would declare your homestead a mini-Madagascar and "button up" to wait for the virus to burn itself out. (BTW, I briefly describe the logistics of this in my article "Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic.") It is obviously too late and inappropriate to take extreme measures to isolate yourself from the current strain of H1N1, but we must remain vigilant for any new viral threats. The ability to "go Madagascar" is just one more reason to a have a deep larder!

Dear Mr. Rawles-
I am writing to tell other Survival Blog readers about a recent experience I had with an N95 mask (with no exhalation port.) My husband and I just bought a 30 year old single wide trailer with 30 years worth of dust, mold, and cat hair. After day of being in the trailer I could feel my allergies start to grow worse by the minute. To clean up the dust, cat hair, and other allergens we went to the local hardware store and rented a Rug Doctor to shampoo the carpets. While shampooing the carpets (which was a bit labor intensive) I wore an N95 mask and let me tell ya' it was an experience. After 30 minutes I felt like I was breathing in thick jungle air. After one hour I felt like I was going to pass out. After two hours I began to feel claustrophobic. If there are readers out there who think they are going to throw on an N95 mask when the swine flu hits their area and run from room to room while caring for sick and dying relatives/friends they better think again. My suggestion is to put on an N95 mask this afternoon, mow the lawn, rake some leaves, take the dog for a brisk walk and see how you feel afterwards. Having survival gear is great but if you have no real world experience with it then it's useless. Know your personal limitations and the limitations of your gear. God bless!

More prepped than ever for the swine flu, - Heather

JWR Replies: In my experience, it takes time to acclimate to wearing a respirator mask. There is no substitute for hours in a mask. Particularly for a full-face military mask, and even more so for a full MOPP suit, limited field of vision, dehydration, claustrophobia and sensory deprivation are well-known effects, but heat build-up up is also an issue, particularly in summer weather. In full-face masks, being deprived of prescription lenses is also an issue, unless you have a prescription lens inserts. (BTW, these hard-to-find inserts are available from JRH Enterprises.) Also be particularly wary of dehydration. Even with masks that include a drinking tube, most wearers have a tendency to drink less than usual.

The bottom line: Practice wearing a mask regularly, in a variety of activities.

Swine flu shots at school: Bracing for fall return (Thanks for John in Ohio for the link)

A Sign of Things To Come? Argentine Banks Close to Help Stop Spread of the Swine Flu

School-Age Children to Get Vaccinations First

Swine Flu Deaths in UK Double as Country Now Has Third Highest Cases

Britain's first 'healthy' swine flu victim dies - the 15th fatality here in total

Obese Exposed as Swine Flu Collides with Fat Epidemic "An unexpected characteristic has emerged among many swine flu victims who become severely ill: They are fat. ... People infected with the bug who have a body mass index greater than 40, deemed morbidly obese, suffer respiratory complications that are harder to treat and can be fatal." JWR Adds: They are also prove difficult to transport to hospitals, and even just to draw blood samples.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Argentine Businesses Hit By Swine Flu

Swine Flu Vaccine Likely to Be Ready in Mid-October

Swine Flu on Main US Afghan Base

Canada: Tamiflu Resistance In Saskatchewan

Jonesy sent us these last two flu items:

Tamiflu Resistance in San Francisco
"The case suggests swine flu - a form of influenza Type A, subtype H1N1 - is capable of not only developing drug resistance but also spreading between humans in that resistant form, said Dr. Arthur Reingold, professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health."

"[The] patients in Japan and in Denmark were taking Tamiflu prophylactically [as a preventive measure], said Dr Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of the WHO... But the San Francisco teenager was not, which gives her case added significance, Reingold said, because it suggests she caught the resistant variant from somebody else."

And directly from WHO: Tamiflu Resistance in Hong Kong, Japan, and Denmark

"These viruses were found in three patients who did not have severe disease and all have recovered. Investigations have not found the resistant virus in the close contacts of these three people. The viruses, while resistant to oseltamivir, remain sensitive to zanamivir."

"All other viruses have been shown sensitive to both oseltamivir and zanamivir."

"Therefore, based on current information, these instances of drug resistance appear to represent sporadic cases of resistance. At this time, there is no evidence to indicate the development of widespread antiviral resistance among pandemic H1N1 viruses."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Four Britons Die From Swine Flu; Tips to Help You Fight the Flu "Optimize your vitamin D levels. As I've previously reported, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies for avoiding infections of all kinds, and vitamin D deficiency is likely the true culprit behind the seasonality of the flu -- not the flu virus itself."

Argentines question government as flu spreads

Swine Flu Worries Spark Cambridge Jail Riots

Northern Hemisphere Bracing for Fall Flu Carnage

Explosion of Swine Flu Deaths in Argentina

Homeless People Die After Trial Bird Vaccination In Poland

Monday, July 6, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Reader L. Jean sent this: UK Government prediction: 40 deaths per day from swine flu. L. Jean's comment: "[I really have no idea where the figures come from as sources aren't quoted in the article, and it doesn't seem to be causing any panic, in fact most people just don't believe it, and are saying 'it's just fl'" and are refusing to take any precautions - which is bad news for the rest of us. I'm still waiting to find out if it's a cytokine storm that kills or not - perhaps not if all deaths so far have been to people with 'underlying health problems'. Strange how every government uses the exact same phrase."

Karen H. flagged these three articles for us:

Britain revamps swine flu strategy to handle 100,000 new cases a day by end of August

WHO working on formulas to model spread of swine flu as actual case outpace reported numbers. "The meeting comes as it becomes clearer that actual case numbers may be far higher than the agency's tally of officially diagnosed infections."

World health officials tackle swine flue pandemic, spreading in Southern Hemisphere, Europe. "As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is unstoppable," Chan said during opening remarks.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mycroft sent us this: Pandemic is here: Time to panic?

Now, H1N1 is in Africa

New Flu Strain Has Pet Owners Worried

Former Marine Claims Illness From Mystery Vaccine "Target 5 [a television news team] has discovered that an alarming number of U.S. troops are having severe reactions to some of the vaccines they receive in preparation for going overseas. 'This is the worst cover-up in the history of the military," said an unidentified military health officer who fears for his job. A shot from a syringe is leaving some U.S. servicemen and women on the brink of death.'"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My work forces me to travel frequently – 80 to 90% of the time. And it’s not to fun places like Miami or Rio but rather third world locales (just coming back from a swing through the ‘stans – Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan -- where I have a large telecommunications project). As such I get exposed to every imaginable sort of illness. I finally found a doctor I could work with when he started to ask where I had been lately rather than what the symptoms were.

As such I have a larger than normal medical kit I take with me on the road. (I also have a 1 quart water bottle sized survival kit I take with me, but more on that in another letter). So I have traveled for years and over the time the kit has grown based on the needs I could not meet in the locales I was in. It really took off when I spent one early December in Beijing and for three weeks the entire stock of western medicines in Beijing was sold out – no decongestants, no ibuprofen, and no sleep as a very bad cold kept me up.

Over the years I have found certain habits to be essential to keeping healthy overseas. First and foremost is a regular dosage of Vitamin C. As soon as I think I am coming down with something I start on a regime of Golden Seal mixed with Echinacea. Finally, I make sure that I have various OTC cold medicines with me at all times – such as Mucinex and 12-hour Sudafed. I also carry Ciprofloxacin, various sulfa drugs, and more recently Tamiflu, as well.

On top of this I am a hygiene nut – washing hands frequently, making quite sure that the water for tea is boiling before I get it, carrying hand wipes with me (Okay, since my youngest is finally out of diapers I am using up the last of the small diaper wipe packets), and the like.

Now while frequent close contact is the norm in many cultures and cannot be avoided without causing undue friction--I still can’t bring myself to do the nose rub with the Arabs--and although I do teach impromptu martial arts classes to all comers in hotel gyms, I do try to limit it.

But all my precautions were to no avail with the Swine Flu. I am just getting over it and have passed it on to my 17-year old son. I assume that the rest of the family will follow in short order (five kids means lots of germ breeding goes on). And if you were in the Frankfurt airport on Saturday – I probably gave it to you as well.

As such I would strongly recommend that folks, while preparing with masks and gloves and the like, concentrate on preparing for getting swine flu. I did everything “right” from a prevention stand point without turning myself into a hermit. And yet here we are with it spreading in my family.

What I have found in my personal case is that the three key medicines to have on hand were Mucinex [expectorant], 12-hour Sudafed [decongestant], and Albuterol Sulfate (found in most of the asthma inhalers and commonly used in nebulizer treatments for breathing disorders). Fortunately, with my travels I have a prescription for, and carry, one of the asthma inhalers for those times that I have come down with various forms of pneumonia while on the road. - Hugh D.

CDC Eyes 600 Million Doses of Swine Flu Shots "Health officials said that a swine flu vaccination campaign could be only a few months away, and that as many as 60 million doses could be ready by September." [JWR Adds: With the current rapid rate of mutation, one can only wonder about the efficacy of this "rush job" vaccine.]

Oregon's Second Swine Flu Death "The child was younger than 5 year old [and] had 'no known underlying medical conditions and a two-day history of fever,' and was not hospitalized, officials said."

Drug-Resistant Swine Flu Seen in Danish Patient

The BBC reports: H1N1 shows first resistance to Tamiflu (Thanks to Andrew H. for the link.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The June 25, 2009 InfraGard meeting was on the pending pandemic. The speakers were Robin K. Koons, Ph.D., epidemiologist for the Colorado Emergency Preparedness and the Director of FEMA for the State of Colorado. This InfraGard meeting was non-restricted, so these notes may be shared:

[begin transcript]

It is anticipated that 30% of the working population, 42 million people, will become ill. 70% of the working population, 150 million people, will not get ill, and will have to run the country. In 1918 out of the 30% that became ill, 2% died.

Infrastructure may not meet human needs. Supply chain resources (warehousing, trucking, grocery store stocking, fuel deliveries) could break down because of current just-in-time inventories. Grocery and convenience stores may not have product for sale. Police, fire and rescue services might be restricted because of manpower shortages. Hospitals may run out of patient room.

How do you know if you have the H1N1? You wake up with a fever of 102-103 degrees and you do not have the energy to lift yourself up so you can get out of bed. You are horizontally stuck.

Preparedness in general:

* Social distance is six feet. Inside six feet you can receive a droplet from a sick person. Keep your distance!
* Avoid people with coughs.
* Wash hands frequently.
* Have available hand sanitizers, masks, disposable rubber gloves.
* Don’t stick your hands in your eyes, nose or mouth.
* Masks help you not put your hands on your face. Glasses keep your fingers away from your eyes.
* Stay away from humans.
* Everything you touch can kill you (grocery store items, filling station fueling nozzle, building door handles, restroom faucets and doors, customer service pens, credit card machine pens, grocery carts, restaurant menus, arm chairs in the doctor’s office, magazines in customer waiting rooms).
* Establish a family care plan. See for additional details.
* If you live in a city, arrange for window shade alerts. A specific window shade always pulled down at night, always put up upon arising in the morning. Watch each other’s windows to make sure your neighbors are OK!
* If you live on a ranch, coordinate with multiple neighbors for backup support for feeding. Set up a telephone call system to check on neighbors. Consider GMRS, multiple mile radios (change the default code), for communication in case you can’t get a telephone dial tone. As in any emergency, too many people checking up on each other can overload the phone system.

At work:

* Hold meetings by teleconference instead of face to face.
* Spread workers out. Keep distance between them.
* Quarantine critical workers to keep them away from people.
* Have paper towels available to be used for opening restroom doors. Have a waste basket outside the restroom door so the towel can be thrown away after exiting.
* Have hand sanitizers available.
* Cross-train employees to make sure each task in the business can be done by at least three people.
* Provide for a backup authority for making decisions in case all decision makers are out sick.
* If the influenza comes back in January, decide when you reach the point where you shut down for “X” number of days.
* Companies can expect 25% absenteeism for 4-8 weeks.
* Workers may need time off to take care of themselves or their family. They may be gone for five days more than once.

The influenza could come in waves of 2-3 months and could mutate so you get it a second time.

People who have been exposed to H1N1 are contagious before they are sick. If you have been exposed to H1N1, you may be contagious even though you are not yet sick. If you have been exposed, keep your six foot social distance and watch what and how you touch objects.

Prepare for 30 days of water, fuel, groceries, vitamins, medications. Prepare to survive without help from the outside.

The Pandemic Rule: No one is coming to help.

[end of meeting notes transcript] - John S.

Swine Flu Multi-Shot Vaccine May Overwhelm States "Two injections will be required three weeks apart for swine flu, also known as H1N1, and a third will be needed for seasonal flu, health officials said at a meeting today at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta. Children younger than 9 years old will need four shots, the CDC said. ... People older than age 50 are getting swine flu at far lower rates than younger people, evidence they may have some immunity from prior exposures to a similar virus, and will only need one shot, the CDC said. ... The agency estimates that at least 50 million vaccine doses will be available in the U.S. by Oct. 15, and enough vaccine to immunize everyone in the country will be available later in the season. ... William Schaffner, an influenza expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said in an interview at the flu conference, “one shot probably gives you very little immunity, 10 to 20 percent at most.”

98% of US Flu Cases are Swine Flu

How to Legally Say "No" to Vaccinations

Two more swine flu deaths in Victoria

HHS Extends Liability Shield to Antivirals Used for Swine Flu

Winter begins in the southern hemisphere: Swine Flu Emergency Declared in Buenos Aires

Soaring Death Rate in Argentina From Swine Flu

Four Fresh Cases of Swine Flu Found in India; Total 93

Thailand Confirms First Swine Flu Fatalities

UK: Glastonbury Festival Hit By Swine Flu

Monday, June 29, 2009

New H1N1 flu not going away: U.S. health agency (Thanks to KAF for the link.)

Mike McD sent this: Western Australia woman fifth to die of swine flu

A news item sent by Karen H.: Britain suffers 2nd H1N1 flu death

Thanks to Richard S. for sending this: Canada to Vaccinate Entire Population

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Next Question in Swine Flu: Who Gets Vaccinated?

Swine Flu Epidemic Escalating in Middle East

Fatal Swine Flu Cluster In Buffalo, NY "The above comments describe two students of magnet schools in Buffalo, NY that are a mile apart. Both students were on life support yesterday, and the middle school student (15) died after life support was withdrawn. The elementary school student (9F) remains on life support. The clustering of two critically ill students raises concerns about the emergence of a more lethal strain of Pandemic H1N1. ... The 2009 Pandemic is tracking with the 1918 Pandemic, which produce mild disease in the spring, and was more lethal in the fall when previously healthy young adults."

Swine Flu Could Infect Up to One-Half the Population

Southern Hemisphere Bracing for Swine Flu Winter

More Fuzzed Up Numbers Being Reported by CDC

Monday, June 22, 2009

E627K Acquisition In Swine H1N1 Raises Pandemic Concerns "The acquisition of E627K creates concern that the virus will evolve into a more lethal agent that will be associated with an increased case fatality rate in previously healthy young adults, as was seen in the 1918 Pandemic."

The first death from swine flu in Australia

Old People May Be Immune to Swine Flu

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chem-Bio Daily (hosted by reports: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts have rejected a report that a new strain of the novel H1N1 influenza virus has been identified in a Brazilian patient.” (Thanks to NH for the tip.)

Clouded, Suspicious Baxter to Make Swine Flu Vaccine

Virus Mix-Up By Lab Could Have Resulted in Pandemic

Swine Flu Cases Spring Up in Middle East

Bird Flu Virus Can Survive For Two Years in Birds' Carcasses [JWR Adds an Important Safety Tip: Do not eat two-year old bird carcasses!]

Kids May Get Swine Flu Shots First

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Don't Worry, It's Just a Pandemic Just redefining it so there is no panic.

Symptoms of Swine Flu and What to Do

Delayed Pandemic Phase 6 Designation Raises Pandemic Concerns "The parallels between the 2009 pandemic and the 1918 pandemic are striking; Both began as a mild infection in the spring and targeted previously healthy young adults. In the fall of 1918, the virus was much more deadly, leading to the death of 20-50 million people, most of which were previously healthy young adults....the two-month delay in the pandemic [phase] 6 declaration may prove to be quite hazardous to the world's health."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

WHO: Swine Flu Alert Closer to Pandemic 64 countries, 18,965 cases, 117 deaths (mostly US & Mexico) "'We still are waiting for evidence of really widespread community activity in these countries, and so it's fair to say that they are in transition and are not quite there yet, which is why we are not in phase 6 yet,' Fukuda said."

NYC Reports Two New Deaths From Swine Flu
Both aged 25-64, 553 total cases, 341 hospitalizations

Swine Flu In All 50 States
More than 10,000 US residents confirmed infected. Confirmed cases represent about 1 in 20 of actual cases. (JWR Adds: I guess its a little to late to pull a "Madagascar.")

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Swine Flu Pandemic Likely to Hit UK tn Early Autumn Before Vaccine Ready John Oxford, Prof. of Virology at St. Bartholomew's said "the number of cases in Britain unrelated to travel suggested the H1N1 virus was "silently spreading around. When children go back to school in September the virus has an opportunity, and normally it takes it. That's the scenario we should prepare for and that's what we are preparing for."

Swine Summer Spread Raises Pandemic Concerns

WHO official says world edging towards pandemic

Monday, June 1, 2009

Navy to Try Swine Flu Vaccine on Human Subjects

Eton Closed After Positive Swine Flu Test

The WHO's tally of countries where H1N1 has spread does not bode well for next winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Let's just pray that it doesn't mutate into a more deadly strain.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hi Jim,
Here is a bit about the progress of Swine Flu in Australia with this article about a quarantined luxury cruise ship.

We now have a cruise ship, the P & O Pacific Dawn, being quarantined at Willis Island on the Great Barrier Reef – with 2000 people on board. Yesterday the ship was photographed flying the yellow quarantine flag! Our “brilliant” state health departments let 20 infected people disembark at Sydney and they [then] flew throughout Australia .

[Some background:] 13 of these people turned up at the Robina Hospital at the Gold Coast and the staff at the hospital had no idea what to do with them. The people were put in a single room with a single bed and most of the family was made to sleep on the floor. Authorities seemed to be clueless.

They (the New South S]Wales government) then let new passengers embark on the infected ship and let the ship leave Sydney on a trip. They also let three infected staff sail on the new voyage. No prizes for guessing what happened next. All people on board now exposed to the swine flu and the ship has been quarantined.

I really enjoy your web log and I have been sharing it with my friends. Keep up the great work and my prayers and best wishes to your wife with her illness. Yours sincerely - Jamie in Queensland, Australia

Hazardous WHO Phase Daze "The constant rewriting of the phase system to avoid calling a phase 6 pandemic a phase 6 pandemic does significant harm in the monitoring of the pandemic, as well as raising public awareness of the seriousness of the evolution and spread of swine H1N1."

NYC Confirms Two More Deaths

56 Cases Confirmed In New Jersey

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scientist: UK Swine Flu Really 30,000

Swine Flu Spreading Wider Than Official Data Shows So, if just 1 in 20 confirmed cases are being reported in the US, then there are possibly now 100,000 US cases

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

When either you or your group is confronted with a biological threat [such as a pandemic or biological warfare], you must determine the following before making decisions either for yourself or for your group.

1) What is the threat?
2) What is the incubation period prior to showing symptoms?
3) How contagious is the threat?
4) By what means is the threat contagious?
5) What is the morbidity rate?
6) What is the mortality rate?

Once you have determined these things, you can make sound decisions that can get you and your group through a trying time.

In the event that you are forced to deal with new members joining your group, [during a pandemic] you will need to quarantine them for a set period of time. This will assure you and your group that the new-comer's presence does not cause harm within your group.

To set up quarantine you will need the following items which will be detailed below:

Food & Water
Communication equipment -or- Another pre-determined way of communicating with the quarantined.
Symptom measuring devices and charts.
Rules that the quarantined must follow if they wish to become part of your group.
A plan should the quarantined not follow those rules.
A plan should the quarantined show symptoms and/or become sick.
A way for the quarantined to expel waste that does not pose a risk of infection to other members of the group.
There is not a single point above that can be neglected for any reason. Having to survive a biological threat has nothing to do with niceties or with comfort.

A place [that is downwind,] away from all group activity for the person(s) in question to be quarantined. How far away is far enough? Miles would be great but it is probably not economical so do with what you have to ensure that your group never gets within a 1,000 feet of the quarantined.

Food & Water:
Whatever the food and water that you supply or that your possible guests bring, they must have means of making it safe for human consumption.

You and the quarantined must be able to protect yourselves from the environment and the biological threat. A strong bleach solution, a rag and a bucket would be fine for disinfecting everything. Alcohol sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap are luxuries if you can afford them.

The group and the quarantined must be able to communicate for numerous reasons. Humans get pent up if they are left in a confined place to their own devices for long and to limit the risk of the quarantined coming too close to the group, they must be able to communicate with the group from a safe distance.

Two-way radios with rechargeable batteries and a way to recharge them at the quarantine site make the best answer to the communication problem, the only problem is that they are expensive to have spares around and impossible to outlast the quarantine if power isn’t available to recharge them.

In the absence of two way radios, your group should have a pre-determined plan for communication should anyone be at risk for the threat, including any quarantined individuals.

The group should never risk entering a place of possible contamination if it can be avoided in any way, so a group should have a Communication Center set up some distance away from the quarantined and a further distance away from the group.

To allow the best ventilation, Communication Centers should never be indoors so a tree, a table or a large rock, all make adequate places.

Each member (the group and the quarantined) should have a pen and multiple sheets of paper (A dry erase board for each group would do fine) of their own to write on and leave at the communication center. Each member should understand the nature of the quarantine and the time at which the papers will be picked up, read and possibly replied to that is consistent with the length of time that the biological threat is thought to stay active on paper.
(e.g: Every 3 hours from __ a.m. - __ p.m.)

Your group should have medicine that can be used to treat common pains and injuries so that the quarantined can be comfortable and it will be easier to gauge their symptoms if they should have any.

Symptom Measuring Devises:
You should include devises that allow the measuring of all symptoms familiar to the threat. Some adequate symptoms measuring devices include a Thermometer, a watch for checking pulse and blood pressure and so on.

Your group should have rules that everyone in the group must follow and separate rules that the quarantined must follow if they wish to eventually enter your group. These rules must include items like; Staying at least _00(0) feet away from every member of the group at all times, keeping the quarantine area clean and free of infection, following proper communication procedures, washing all contaminated clothing upon entering the quarantine area and being honest with the progression of any and all symptoms including minor symptoms that may or may not be related to the threat.

Contingency plan for symptoms within the quarantined:
This plan needs special consideration because the quarantined may be members of one’s own family or close friends and particular thought must be given to how they will handle the onset of symptoms and how the group must handle the quarantined should they become less than complacent including delivery of proper medication to treat the threat.

Contingency plan if the quarantined does not follow the rules:
This plan should be relatively simple. Anyone who puts your group’s health and safety at risk by not following the rules is not a valued member of any group and should be avoided like the threat itself.

Waste Expulsion:
Human waste is possibly a carrier of the threat and since it cannot be avoided it should be taken into consideration.

If there is a working toilet and sink at the quarantine site, by all means use it.

In place of a working toilet and sink, the quarantined will have to take special measures to not endanger the group. In an outdoor environment, the group will have to dig a hole at the quarantine site (Prior to the visitor’s arrival) at least 5-6 feet deep and mark that area with a flag easily visible to both the quarantined and the group. The quarantined will then need to expel all human waste in that hole and only in that hole (to limit the exposure of contaminants to the quarantine site) and then kick a little bit of the pre-dug dirt back into the hole covering the excrements.

This is the time where a little lime would go a long way. If at all possible to acquire, get some lime prior to the threat to have on storage for just such a need.

Quarantine Items:
2 - 5 Gallon bucket(s) or the equivalent.
Anti-Bacterial soap
Food that does not need cooking (Min. of incubation period worth of food if able to spare) and additional food left at communication center every day.
Water or a clean water source
2 way radios with rechargeable batteries and a battery charger
Paper and Pens should the 2-way radios give out
Flag(s) for marking human waste site
Watch for keeping time for communication and symptoms
Toilet Paper (If available)
Quarantine Item Set Up:
All should be able to fit within the 5 gallon bucket with the exception of food and water (Though a little will be placed in there in advance) including the following items placed on the top:

Rules of the group
Expected quarantine Time
Rules of quarantine
Rules of communication

This will be a pre-printed or pre-written page that will be given to the prospective guests to read and decide whether they are willing to do the things necessary to join the group.

We are very glad to see you healthy and well and are taking the health and wellness of our group extremely serious. In doing so, we have implemented rules that you must adhere to without exception if you wish to join our group.

These rules may seem tedious but we are not taking chances when human life is at stake just as we will not take chances in protecting your health or the health of any new members to our group.

Firstly, we will not be having any face to face communication. In place of this, we will provide, among other things, a 2 way radio, rechargeable batteries and a battery charger so that we may communicate with each other at all times (or another way of communicating as described later).

The current known incubation period of the threat that we face together is ____ hours or __ days. If you wish to join our group, you will be forced to quarantine yourself in a location that we provide or set for ____ hours or __ days to ensure your safety and the safety of our group. If you are not willing to follow these rules including duration of quarantine, kindly set down this sheet of paper now and walk away.

At no time will a group member come within 500 – 1,000 feet of you during your time in quarantine. This is for the protection of all members of the group and yourself. Do not violate this rule – Use the radio or the aforementioned way of communicating in it’s place.

Once you enter your quarantine location, you will be required to stay within _00(0) feet of your quarantine location until the time of quarantine is over. If you breach this _00(0) feet marker which we will set or determine, you will no longer be eligible for joining our group. Please follow this rule.

If you do not have food and water with you, food and water will be provided for you at a drop point that we will disclose later.

Human Waste:
There will be a pre-dug designated latrine that will be used for the disposal of all human waste. Human waste, which already poses a health safety hazard is not to be expelled into any container but dropped directly from your body into the designated latrine as you “go to the bathroom” after which you are required to kick dirt or shovel lime back into the latrine to cover the waste.

Food disposal:
Only prepare as much food to eat and you are going to eat. Any food that is not consumed is to be buried with the waste as noted above.

Self evaluation and symptom reporting:
We will provide you with the tools necessary to evaluate yourself. You will be required to evaluate yourself twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. You must answer all items honestly. You are to report the following items to the group:

Appetite: None, Normal or Excessive
Vision: Clear, Blurry or Normal
Fluid Consumption: Normal, Heavy or Low
Physical Well-Being: Tired, Energetic or Normal
Medications taken within the last 24 hours:
Pain: None or on a level of 1 – 10 with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt.
Stress Level: Low, Moderate or High
Symptoms: ________
Urine Excretion: Yellow, Cloudy or Clear (Was there a hot or burning sensation when urinating?)
Waste Excretion: How many times a day and; Loose, firm, normal or painful.
Staying Healthy:
We expect that you came to us healthy and we want to see you remain that way. Please eat 3 meals every day, drink plenty of liquids, busy yourself with items you brought or by writing a story (not involving the current situation but rather one that is purely fictional) and following the listed daily exercise recommendations:

Walking: Even in a confined area, walking moves the blood through your system and will provide a healthier you.
Arm and leg stretches: Stretching your arms and legs is a fundamental need that every body has.
Not staying in one spot or position for an extended period of time.
Brushing your teeth daily with or without toothpaste and brushing your body down (dry shower) with a rag are two essential ways of staying healthy.
Please do not perform any muscle building or muscle retaining exercises during this time. Muscle building exercises break down your current muscle to rebuild more and releases toxins into your system. Refrain from any such activity during this time so as not to confuse the symptoms of muscle breakdown with symptoms of the threat.

Positive Thought:
Negative thought will not be tolerated in our group. You are a strong person and you will get through this. Please do not let the dire nature of this threat overwhelm your sense of self worth or the free will that God gave to you. If the threat seems overwhelming, know that you are strong and pray for the endurance to see this through.

Carried Item Quarantine:
Please understand that the items that you brought with you may carry the threat on them for an unknown amount of time. The group will decide which items can be cleaned, used or disposed of without hesitation or regard to personal feelings. You may at no time keep an item that the group feels is dangerous.

That is it. Those are the rules required by anyone who wishes to join our group and anyone who leaves our group for any amount of time.

If you are not 100% sure that this move is right for you and 100% sure that you will abide by these rules, there will be no hard feelings between us. Please put this paper down on the ground, wave a goodbye and walk away now.

We thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times that we all must face.

If you are positive beyond doubt that you will abide by these rules and any rules that the group may impose in addition to these, please fold this paper up and place it in either your shirt or pants pocket. At this time we will disclose the location of items that we will be providing you and further our communication together.

Go on to Document #2

Document #2 – On a separate sheet of paper


We are very glad that you have chosen to quarantine yourself from our group before joining it. This shows that you care as much about our well being as we do yours and proves your willingness to put the group’s needs ahead of your own. In no way does quarantine mean isolation, we look forward to communicating with you using the two way radios that we will provide or the use of a communication center that we will set up.

We know that this can be an emotional time. Please do not let your emotions run your self control, will for life or care for others. We are here to communicate with you throughout this entire time and we look forward to spending time with you once you join our group.

The location that you will be staying in during your quarantine is:


We will provide the following items for you if you do not already have them on hand.
2 - 5 Gallon bucket(s) or the equivalent (for the cleaning of clothes and items.)
Anti-Bacterial soap
Food that does not need cooking (Min. of incubation period worth of food if able to spare) and additional food left at communication center every day.
Water or a clean water source
2 way radios with rechargeable batteries and a battery charger
Paper and Pens (In case the 2-way radios give out or for story writing)
Watch (for keeping time for communication and daily health evaluations.)
Toilet Paper (If available)

Radio Operation:
Provide instruction for radios here

Communication Center:
The communication center will be at the following location.


We will be using the communication center for the supply or re-supply of all goods including the items that you will get once entering quarantine. We will also use it for communication if the radios fail to work properly. We will be checking for communication every ___ hours (1 hour beyond the time that the threat is thought to survive on paper) from ____ a.m. to ____ p.m. daily. Please flag a new communication by placing __________ over the paper or dry erase board for the group to see.

Proper Communication Etiquette:
As you can probably tell, we are limited by the items that we have on hand including paper. Please write legibly and please tear off the paper at the bottom of your communication so that the rest of the paper may be saved for later use.

To limit the risk of exposure, we will not be touching any communication items at the communication center. It will be your job to dispose of all paper used for communication by placing it in the latrine.

Emergency Communication:
A true emergency is something that is life threatening and that cannot wait until our next communication. We will never cry wolf to you so please express the same care and respect for us.

If the need should arise for emergency communication, the universal distress code that we will use is 3 of anything, 3 seconds apart. That means 3 loud whistles 3 seconds apart, 3 bangs on the bottom of a bucket, 3 shouts using the word “Emergency” or 3 blows on an air horn.

We will continue to use this code every 3 minutes until visual confirmation can be made of the person issuing the emergency code and the group.

Example use of the Emergency Distress Code: Whistle Whistle Whistle – Wait 3 seconds - Whistle Whistle Whistle – Wait 3 seconds and then finally Whistle Whistle Whistle now wait 3 minutes and repeat.

That covers it. We are so glad to see you well. Please fold this paper up, place it in your pocket and follow the schedule below:


Gather your items and bring them with you to the quarantine site.
Leave all items well outside of the quarantine site until proper decontamination can be fulfilled.
Before entering the Quarantine Site: Remove any outer clothing which may be contaminated and place all items inside the bleach/water solution that is in the bucket provided for you at the site.
Next, take a rag and rinse your body over with the bleach and water solution from head to toes. Bleach will not hurt you at the strength it is diluted to. Please wash well your hair, face, hands and all exposed body parts.
Dry off with clean rag provided.
Enter Quarantine site

Dear Mr. Rawles,
As an avid SurvivalBlog reader since '05, I've got to say, the quality of your blog continues to go up and up. Just when I think I can't possibly absorb anything more, new posts appear that make me think, plan, and act.

Upon your blog's advice, I have begun taking an EMT class at a local college to expand my medical knowledge base. What the Paramedic teacher said today in class gave me the chills. We were discussing all manner of diseases and then he touched on H1N1, the Swine Flu and its possible affects upon the EMS system. He said that during the SARS crisis, which in our neck of the woods was just a brief scare, the volume of calls into the 911 center went up 10% for several weeks due to everyone that had a cold thinking they had SARS. The EMS crews were advised that if they transported a patient with symptoms consistent with SARS, that they were to disinfect the entire truck with a bleach and water solution from top to bottom and then allow the truck to air dry for three hours
before it was placed back into service. He noted that in our county of around 1/2 million people, there were 20 to 30 ambulances on duty at any one time. He dryly noted that it would not take much of a crisis in public health to bring the EMS system as we know it to it's knees just based on the increase in call volume,not to mention the ambulance down-time to disinfect the vehicles.

One solution [that the instructor] hypothesized, was a system of 911 triage in a pandemic that said to callers, we will not transport you if you have the flu; you are on your own to get to the hospital. I think this point should be obvious to most SurvivalBlog readers but it dovetails nicely with the pharmacist's postings regarding securing your anti-viral drugs now.
All the best to you and your family, - B.H.I.

JWR Adds: For anyone that missed my May 1st post about getting ready for an influenza panic, this portion bears repeating:

I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers seriously think through the implications of successive waves of Mexican Flu sweeping around the globe for the next three years. From what we've already seen of its virulence after the normal "cold and flu season", then the next couple of winters could bring very high rates of infection and overwhelm the healthcare system. Please take the time to watch Dr. Henry Niman of Recombinomics discussing"Swine" flu. His projections are disturbing, to say the least! Think this through folks, on a macro scale: How would a pandemic impact your work? Commuting? Grocery shopping? Church activities? School? (If you are not yet homeschooling, then you should plan on it!) Your vacation plans? Summer camp? Family holiday get-togethers? Sports and cultural events? These implications are enormous. As SurvivalBlog readers, you are already accustomed to contemplating abstractions at this level and getting "ahead of the power curve." You also likely have the benefit of superior training and a deep larder. And, hopefully, many of you took my advice three years ago, and began to develop home-based businesses. (Mail order businesses will undoubtedly flourish, as people shun face-to-face sales.)

There are no guarantees, but you have a better chance of getting through this unscathed than most of your neighbors. Hopefully, all of you read the backgrounder on family flu preparedness, that I've had posted here are SurvivalBlog for more than three years. But if not... Now is time to make the requisite adjustments to your daily routine and to top off your logistics:

  • Now is the time to order several boxes of N95 masks and rolls of bandage tape (for sealing any mask edge gaps )
  • Now is the time to buy a steam vaporizer (new, or used -- Try Craig's List for used ones)
  • Now is the time to approach your family doctor, and ask for a scrip for Tamiflu.
  • Now is the time to lay in a supply of Sambucol (Elderberry extract.)
  • Now is the time to lay in supplies of hand sanitizer (with aloe) and latex gloves--or nitrile gloves for those with latex allergies
  • Now is the time to stock up on Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Guaifenesin expectorant
  • Now is the time to buy a couple of Bag Valve Masks
  • And lastly, for this and umpteen other contingencies, now is the time to acquire an honest one year supply of storage food (or more) for your family. Buy some extra, for charity.

If you wait too long, then those supplies will either be non-existent, or exorbitantly priced. By the time most of the sheeple think this through (or have it explained to them by the talking heads on the Idiot Box), you will have long since "topped off" your preps. But not if you hesitate. As my friend Bob in Tennessee is fond of saying: "Panic now, and avoid the rush."

Mark my words: A true pandemic will disrupt supply chains, starting with relatively exotic items (such as antivirals), but eventually working down to basic commodities. Be ready.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New flu virtually everywhere in U.S. now, CDC says

WHO chief kept flu alert level at phase 5+

New York school vice-principal dies from swine Flu (Thanks to KAF for alerting us to this news story)

A New, New H1N1 In Mexico?

Nations Urge WHO to Change Swine Flu Assessment They want pandemic called only if lots of people are dying (not because it is widespread) because of money: "A pandemic announcement would likely have severe economic consequences: it could trigger expensive trade and travel restrictions like border closures, airport screenings and quarantines, as countries not yet affected struggle to keep the virus out."

Transmission of Swine Flu In Japan = Phase 6

CDC: Swine Flu Virtually Everywhere in US

Military Implications of Pandemic Flu

Monday, May 18, 2009

CDC: Up to 100,000 Are Probably Infected in US US Deaths at five, all reportedly with underlying health problems. Globally, 7,000 (which means many more cases than have been confirmed)

Swine Flu Cases Continue to Rise But No Pandemic Called Yet "Fukuda notes a pandemic has nothing to do with the severity of the disease, but rather with its geographic spread."

Avian Flu Beaten By Cold Noses

WHO eyes swine flu transmission rates, new vaccine

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Heather sent a link to an article was featured in Seven Days (an ultra-liberal newspaper in Burlington, Vermont: The Pandemic Pantry; Stocking up on staples, just in case. Heather's comment: "I think this article illustrates the fact that the preparedness mindset is starting to reach the mainstream. Maybe the sheeple are beginning to catch on? The article on the side talks about the LDS Church. While I have theological disagreements with the LDS I think their food storage program is outstanding."

KAF sent us this: Another Swine Bug Raises Scientists' Concerns. KAF's comment: "This is particularly disturbing. When Egypt began mass slaughtering the pigs, I thought they were mad. Now I am wondering if perhaps they knew something we are just finding evidence of? "

Via K.J.'s e-mail: Confirmed US swine flu cases rises to 896

From Tricia: WHO: Up to 2 billion people might get swine flu

Decision on Flu Vaccine Looms

Does WHO need to declare flu a full pandemic? (Thanks to Ray V. for the link.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As the H1N1 flu spreads across the nation and around the globe, the key question seems to be: It the flu is spreading this quickly in warm weather, then what will it do next winter, when people are generally in closer proximity, indoors? The CDC has vowed to "...continue to get ready for a possible pandemic in the fall."

Clearly, prudence dictates that we be well-prepared, so stock up!

The latest flu headlines:

Jim S. suggested a video from an academic on the implications of H1N1 hitting Phase 5.

Chan hits back at WHO critics. (Thanks to Greg C. for the link.)

At Bloomberg: Swine Flu May Merge with Other Flu Viruses, CDC Says

Linked at Drudge: Mexico to resume business, pork row erupts

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reader RG in Arizona recommended this article: Scientists dig for lessons from past pandemics

Mexico: No New Swine Flu Deaths; Cases Up to 443

UK: Supermarkets Prepare For Panic Buying

Why the Flu Can Never Be Eradicated

CDC Current Statistics 21 states, 160 cases, 1 death ("officially")

More Schools Shut As Swine Flu Spreads
(430 schools) "The government issued new guidance for schools with confirmed cases, saying they should close for at least 14 days because children can be contagious for seven to 10 days from when they get sick. That means parents can expect to have children at home for longer than previously thought."

In California, Cases Suggest Border Origin

More on the Latest Three Bank Takeovers

H1N1 (Swine) Flu Cases in 15 Countries China, Hong Kong, Denmark confirm outbreaks. Now in 15 countries. "The regions hardest hit are in the western hemisphere, said a WHO spokesman. We have not seen sustained human-to-human transmission anywhere outside the Americas region," he added."

Two Human-To-Human Transmissions Confirmed in UK "Until now, cases were confined to people who had themselves recently come back from Mexico."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

SurvivalBlog reader Laurence W. wrote to warn that it is premature to post early estimates that the Mexican Flu is mild. "It may or may not be. There are not enough data points yet to speak authoritatively.
All one can correctly say is that it is too early to tell." He cited recent some well-informed discussion threads in the Flu Wiki Forum and the Forum.

Reader Laura C. recommended visiting the US Archives Online Exhibit of 1918 Flu. Photographs and Letters.

141 Cases, 19 States "The World Health Organization is warning of an imminent pandemic because scientists cannot predict what a brand-new virus might do. A key concern is whether this spring outbreak will surge again in the fall."

Farmers Fear Pigs Might Get Flu from Us

Swine Flu Originated on California Border?

Toddler Who Died in Texas Visited Houston Mall Before Onset of Symptoms

Swine Flu Starting to Look Less Threatening

First Genetic Analysis of Swine Flu Reveals Potency

Confirmed Number of Global Swine Flu Cases: 367 and Counting

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Aloha James,
To confirm your take on the need to prepare ahead of time, I realized last weekend that this current event (Mexican Flu) would be a good opportunity to actually measure public reaction to an emergency. Thus, once the government announced a health emergency on Saturday, I began watching the shelves at three local drug stores and Amazon. Here's what happened in Honolulu, Hawaii (a city of 800,000 and an international airport hub).

Saturday - all shelves full of flu meds & masks
Sunday - masks half gone, some in the back of the store, shelves full of flu meds
Monday - masks half gone, none in the back of the store, shelves half full of flu meds
Tuesday - masks gone, back ordered, shelves half full of flu meds
Wednesday - while I was sitting in my kid's dentist office, two employees of other businesses in the mall came by and asked the receptionists for masks. Both said they looked everywhere and couldn't find any. The receptionist could only spare one each. Stores still running half full shelves of flu meds.

Watching Amazon - on Saturday you could buy the surgical N95 masks (green ones), by Monday they were sold out and white N95s were $13.98 for 20. By Wed, the white ones went up to $15.99, and other merchants were selling theirs for $59.99 for 20, with one merchant advertising their "last box" of 20 for $299!

If this doesn't convince people to stock up and stock up early, I don't know what will. Three days; that's all it took for the city to run out of masks, and I can only surmise by this, that it would only take a few more days to run out of flu meds if the news reported someone locally had the Mexican Flu. I hope fellow readers get the point.

Thank you for your excellent blog. I'm on the June waiting list for my copy of Patriots and look forward to reading it. Keep up the great work! - KJ in Honolulu, Hawaii

The first really good news on the flu outbreak came yesterday: Scientists See this Flu Strain as Relatively Mild. I am hopeful that the current strain won't mutate into something more inimical. But be sure to be well prepared, and get in the habit of frequent hand washing, regardless.OBTW, if I were in a position of influence, I'd recommend that the custom of handshaking be temporarily replaced with saluting, as was done during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. (But alas, these days some segments of society might see that as overly militaristic and politically incorrect.)

Reader Pat M. suggested an interesting article in Science Daily on social isolation to prevent the spread of influenza. OBTW, to minimize "casual contact", I recommend curtailing social events, and shifting to family wilderness activities such as hiking and rock hounding. If you are a target shooter, instead of going to public ranges do your shooting on remote BLM land, or on private land (with permission.)

The latest flu headlines:

The Binder sent us a link to a Newsweek article that suggests that the number of flu cases may be under-reported in Mexico: City of Fear; How the swine flu is terrorizing Mexico's capital. An on-scene report.

Queensland residents told to stockpile food amid flu fear

WHO to Stop Using Term "Swine Flu" to Protect Pigs

Vaccine Promised as US Cases Passes 100

More than 40 Probable Cases in Illinois

48 Confirmed Cases in New York State

Three New Cases Confirmed in Britain

Swine Flu Spreads to 11 States, 100 Schools Closed

Pandemic of Panic

E-mail From Trucker to Steve Quayle

Government Issues Guidance on Facility Closure: School Dismissal and Childcare

More Than 300 Schools Now Closed in US "Closing a school alone won't stop community spread. "If a school is closed, it's not closed so kids can go out to the mall or go out to the community at large," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "Keep your young ones at home."

Hong Kong Confirms Asia's First Case of Swine Flu (now known as H1N1)
Detected in Mexican man who had come from Shanghai.

Security Agent Likely Caught Swine Flu on Trip with Obama

NYC Mayor Says Many Sick People Not Tested, Number of Cases Probably Higher

Doctor in Washington State Saw 22 Patients Before Falling Ill

Ft. Worth: Mayfest, Other Events Cancelled Over Flu Concerns

Harvard Medical School Cancels Classes Over Possible Swine Flu

Friday, May 1, 2009

I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers seriously think through the implications of successive waves of Mexican Flu sweeping around the globe for the next three years. From what we've already seen of its virulence after the normal "cold and flu season", then the next couple of winters could bring very high rates of infection and overwhelm the healthcare system. Please take the time to watch Dr. Henry Niman of Recombinomics discussing"Swine" flu. His projections are disturbing, to say the least! Think this through folks, on a macro scale: How would a pandemic impact your work? Commuting? Grocery shopping? Church activities? School? (If you are not yet homeschooling, then you should plan on it!) Your vacation plans? Summer camp? Family holiday get-togethers? Sports and cultural events? These implications are enormous. As SurvivalBlog readers, you are already accustomed to contemplating abstractions at this level and getting "ahead of the power curve." You also likely have the benefit of superior training and a deep larder. And, hopefully, many of you took my advice three years ago, and began to develop home-based businesses. (Mail order businesses will undoubtedly flourish, as people shun face-to-face sales.)

There are no guarantees, but you have a better chance of getting through this unscathed than most of your neighbors. Hopefully, all of you read the backgrounder on family flu preparedness, that I've had posted here are SurvivalBlog for more than three years. But if not... Now is time to make the requisite adjustments to your daily routine and to top off your logistics:

  • Now is the time to order several boxes of N95 masks and rolls of bandage tape (for sealing any mask edge gaps )
  • Now is the time to buy a steam vaporizer (new, or used -- Try Craig's List for used ones)
  • Now is the time to approach your family doctor, and ask for a scrip for Tamiflu.
  • Now is the time to lay in a supply of Sambucol (Elderberry extract.)
  • Now is the time to lay in supplies of hand sanitizer (with aloe) and latex gloves--or nitrile gloves for those with latex allergies
  • Now is the time to stock up on Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Guaifenesin expectorant
  • Now is the time to buy a couple of Bag Valve Masks
  • And lastly, for this and umpteen other contingencies, now is the time to acquire an honest one year supply of storage food (or more) for your family. Buy some extra, for charity.

If you wait too long, then those supplies will either be non-existent, or exorbitantly priced. By the time most of the sheeple think this through (or have it explained to them by the talking heads on the Idiot Box), you will have long since "topped off" your preps. But not if you hesitate. As my friend Bob in Tennessee is fond of saying: "Panic now, and avoid the rush." [The Memsahib adds: If you've been consistently panicking since 1999 with no ill effects on your spouse's mental health, then give yourself a pat on the back.]

Mark my words: A true pandemic will disrupt supply chains, starting with relatively exotic items (such as antivirals), but eventually working down to basic commodities. Be ready.

Today's flu headlines:

Panic buying and government distrust in Mexico

1st US Swine Flu Death: Toddler in Texas (visiting from Mexico) Flu also now in Austria and Germany

"Patient Zero" may have been found
. A 5-yr-old who lives near a pig farm.

Access to Safe, Reliable Food Essential in Pandemic

Swine Flu Tracking On-Line

Ron Paul: Putting Swine Flu in Perspective

Dr. Len Horowitz: Mexican Flu Outbreak 2009 Special Report

Swine Flu Worries Shut Down Three Private California Schools

US Swine Flu Cases Now Officially at 68

Schwarzenegger, Obama Boosts Efforts Against Swine Flu

WHO Warns Swine Flu Threatening to Become Pandemic

World Takes Drastic Steps to Contain Swine Flu

Biden Tells Family to Stay Off Planes, Subways

Mexico Shuts Nonessential Services Amid Swine Flu

Asia Suspected Swine Flu Cases Rise

All Ft. Worth, Texas, Schools Closed Over Flu Fears

49 Confirmed Cases in NYC

CDC Latest Facts and Figures Re Swine Flu

Obama: US May Close Schools to Battle Swine Flu

Swine Flu Could Threaten Millions with Other Diseases

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheryl wrote to mention an article that described using Vitamin D to prevent a cytokine storm The dose is 2,000 units of Vitamin D per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2046 pounds), once per day. Thus, for an average 150 lb. adult, the dose would be would be 136,060 units of Vitamin D. This is to be taken for three days. (I.U. Equivalence: 50,000 units = 1.25 mg) My Strong Proviso: The usual fat soluble vitamin (KADE) warnings apply. Don't over-do a good thing. You should discuss vitamin D testing and replacement with your physician before acting on that doctor's recommendations! Vitamin D supplement limits vary depending on body weight, diet, and exposure to the sun.

Today's flu headlines:

WHO pandemic threat level raised to 5 out of 6

New Flu Strain is a Genetic Mix

First US Swine Flu Death, Cases Now in 10 States

France urges Mexican flight ban

Cuba Halts Mexico Travel (First Country to Do So)

Pandemic Risk Grows as New Cases Emerge
US cases now at 64, Mexico 152 dead, over 2,000 infected

US Flu Deaths Seem Likely as Outbreak Spreads

Scary Advertisements From 1976 Flu Outbreak
Today they tell us to stay calm

Mexico City Mayor: One more death, toll stabilizing

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It has been reported that the incubation period for the Mexican Swine Flu is 4-to-5 days, and perhaps as long as 10 days in children. That's the "hot" period when someone infected is shedding the virus. This is bad news for epidemiologists. With modern air travel, this means that there is probably no stopping the flu from making it to the far reaches of the globe. So now, all that we can do is wait, watch, and pray that it doesn't mutate into a more lethal strain. Barring that, my guesstimate is that it will be every country with a couple of months. The crucial time will be next winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It is now Fall in the Southern Hemisphere, so their upcoming flu season might give us a preview of what will happen up here, next year. Are you ready to hunker down when the flu hits your town?

Here are today's flu headlines:

The Government’s Forecast if Flu Problem Explodes: Two Million Americans Die "Ninety million citizens would get sick. The economy would shut down."

DHS Sets Guidelines For Possible Swine Flu Quarantines

Official: US Flu Victims May Be Infecting Others Confirmed cases in Asia Pacific and New Zealand

Schumer Bragged About Cutting Pandemic Funding (Well, now we are all in Deep Schumer.)

Swine Flu More Dangerous than Bird Flu

Why Does the Swine Flu Kill Healthy People?

WHO Revises Scale For Pandemic Alerts

Mexican Reports: Flu Much Worse Than Reported "The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff. There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks." - Dr. Antonio Chavez

Two Swine Flu Cases Confirmed in Scotland

Swine Flu Boosts Demand For Face Masks, Antivirals

Swine Flu Warning Raised as Virus Crosses Continents Now at Level 4. Could become Level 5 in the next few days.

Washingtonians Prepare for Swine Flu

Flu: Worst Case Scenario

Swine Flu Epidemic Enters Dangerous New Phase "The virus poses a potentially grave new threat to the U.S. economy, which was showing tentative early signs of a recovery. A widespread outbreak could batter tourism, food and transportation industries, deepening the recession in the U.S. and possibly worldwide."

40 Cases of Swine Flu in US to Date (No Deaths)

WHO Confirms Pandemic Alert Level Raised to Level 4

Swine Flu Cases Around the World

Swine Flu Fears Close Schools in CA, TX, NY

Americans Told to Wear Masks as Swine Flu Spreads Around the World

Monday, April 27, 2009

The new H1N1 swine-avian-human influenza is certainly getting its share of headlines. It will be interesting to see how this event progresses, and the reactions of the populace and governments. Here are some updates:

The Mexican Flu now has a Wikipedia page that seems to be kept quite up to date.

Here is a Google map showing the locales of confirmed and suspected cases

Doc D. mentioned this piece at Mashable: How To: Track Swine Flu Online

SurvivalBlog readers in Texas and Southern California have already noted shortages of Sambucol at their local drug stores. It is safe to assume that if the contagion spreads rapidly that there will be lots of shortages of N95 respirators, disposable coarse-mesh paper masks (not much good against even clumped viruses), hand sanitizer, Tamiflu, Sambucol, Cipro, and canned goods.

Several SurvivalBlog readers have written to mention that Mexico City is a powder keg. For example, reader Greg C. wrote to ask: "Has anyone thought about where 20 million residents of Mexico City will go when they all start to panic and bug out of the city?"

Have you ever wondered how viruses can spread so quickly? A YouTube animation of airline flight paths is fascinating. (Thanks to Susan W. for the link.)Whilst there, I spotted a worldwide view of air traffic.

Safecastle (one of our advertisers), reports that they've had a huge increase in sales of HarzardID decontamination kits. I don't expect those to last long.

News Headlines: (Special thanks to Cheryl, aka "The Economatrix" for sending most of these)

Swine flu and deaths in healthy adults--cytokine storm?

Asia on alert over swine flu threat

Face Masks Analyzed as Aid in Flu Pandemic (Thanks to Matt R for the link.) Matt adds: "Home Depot and Lowe's both sell N95 respirators." (So do several Internet vendors such as Ready Made Resources.) And speaking of masks, Chris W. suggested a FDA reference page.

WHO Declares International Concern Over Swine Flu

Mexico May Isolate Patients with Deadly Swine Flu

Eight New York Students Likely Have Strain of Swine Flu 30 children in Bronx daycare have flu-like symptoms

Swine Flu Could Mutate to More Dangerous Strain

No New Local Cases of Swine Flu Reported Locally (San Diego, CA) "However, they continued to caution that more illnesses are likely to surface as local, state and federal disease investigators examine more people suffering flu-like symptoms."

Swine Flu to Be Probed, No Pandemic Yet (Imperial Valley, CA)

Mexico Fights Swine Flu With "Pandemic Potential"

Swine flu cases discovered in Canada

NYC School Cases Confirmed Swine Flu

U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu

Swine Flu Empties Mexico City's Streets Official Numbers: 81 dead, 1,324 infected in Mexico; Suspected cases elsewhere including New Zealand

Swine Flu Fears as New Zealand Students Quarantined

CDC: Flu Has Spread Widely, Cannot Be Contained

Texas Health Dept. Closes School; Bans Sick Reporter From News Conference

Third Texas Case Of Swine Flu Confirmed; Family Quarantined

Seventh Case of Swine Flu Confirmed in California

US to begin asking about flu at the border. (Why didn't they close the border, 48 hours ago?)

Canada Confirms Four Cases

Mexico Streets Empty as Swine Flu Toll Climbs

Swine Flu: White House Has Unusual Sunday Briefing

Anxiety Grips Hospital Waiting Rooms as Fears of Swine Flu Spread Through the City

World on Alert Over Mexican Killer Swine Flu as Pandemic Fears Rise Suspected cases also in France, Israel. Medical personnel said symptoms began like normal flu, but then victims' temperatures shot up, with paralysing muscle aches.

Swine Flu: Panic Spreads Worldwide

British Airways Cabin Crew Member Quarantined; Fell Ill on Flight to UK From Mexico

And in closing, here is a PDF to keep in your reference file: a very detailed description of how to perform Chest Physical Therapy on a person who is having difficulty clearing their lungs. (A tip of the hat to reader John H.)

Reading through your flu background article [Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic], I found your mention of [the Elderberry extract] Sambucol. I'm going to get some but you might want to read the article on Elderberry posted at the fluwiki web site.

It sounds generally positive about Sambucol for seasonal flu, but does say this regarding avian flu:

"However, elderberry also increases cytokine production. One specific concern with H5N1 infections is the possibility that this strain of flu may induce cytokine storm, leading to ARDS and the high mortality associated with it. It is unknown if the increased circulating cytokines that elderberry and other alternative medicines induce could increase a victims risk of cytokine storm. Medical science does not currently know the exact mechanism that triggers cytokine storm. We cannot say if increased cytokine levels before or during infection is a risk factor for ARDS or an effect of some other mechanism that begins the inflammatory cascade that results in it. High cytokine levels are documented to be associated with ARDS, but causation is unknown..."

Regards, - Matt R.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In the past 24 hours I've received dozens of e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers about the emerging Mexican Flu. Some news stories have included cryptic comments from heath officials, implying that the mechanism of infection makes this particular virus "very difficult to contain." This leads me to conclude that those infected have a long latency period during which they are infectious, yet, they do not display frank symptoms. This does not bode well for any hopes of containing the spread of the virus.

Then we hear a CDC official stating: "The swine flu virus contains four different gene segments representing both North American swine and avian influenza, human flu and a Eurasian swine flu." That strikes we as something very peculiar.

The disease is respiratory, and has one strong similarity to the 1918 Spanish Flu: "The majority were young adults between 25 and 45 years old," said one official under the condition of anonymity. Since, young and healthy people with strong immune systems are the most likely to succumb, this might indicate that the biggest killer is a cytokine storm--a collapse caused by the human immune system's over-reaction to a pathogen.

I strongly recommend that everyone reading this take the time to re-read my background article on flu self-quarantine and other precautions: Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic. The details that I give there are quite important. Pay special attention to my discussion of the shortage of hospital ventilators. If anyone in your family is immunosuppressed, consider yourselves on alert. Make your final preparations to hunker down, immediately.

In the next few days, there is a good chance of wholesale panic, including some well-publicized "runs" --probably first for hand sanitizer and face masks, and soon after for bottled water and groceries. Plan on it.

UPDATE: The BBC News web page Mexico flu: Your experiences has some updates posted from individuals in Mexico City

To summarize, here are some key quotes from a recent article:

"This outbreak is particularly worrisome because deaths have happened in at least four different regions of Mexico, and because the victims have not been vulnerable infants and elderly.

"The most notorious flu pandemic, thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults."
"But it may be too late to contain the outbreak, given how widespread the known cases are. If the confirmed deaths are the first signs of a pandemic, then cases are probably incubating around the world by now, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a pandemic flu expert at the University of Minnesota.

"No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer."

Current statistics show a less than 10% lethality rate, but of course the first wave of flu victims are getting access to the best medical care available. If the contagion spreads, sheer numbers will quickly overwhelm hospital facilities--particularly the number of mechanical ventilators available. So the lethality rate may rise, even if there is not a viral mutation.

Here are the latest headlines on the flu, as well as some background pieces. I'll post more links, as they become available.

Swine Flu, Mexico Lung Illness Heighten Pandemic Risk

Swine flu could infect U.S. trade and travel

Mexico Races to Stop Deadly Flu Virus

Spanish Flu Survivors Remember

Some Facts About Past Flu Pandemics

WHO ready with antivirals to combat swine flu

Possible Swine Flu Outbreak at NYC Prep School

California Expects To Find More New Flu Cases

Swine Flu Jitters Sparks Sell-Off In US Hogs

Swine Flu Resources

Most Mexico fatal flu victims aged between 25-45

Swine Flu May Be Named Event of ‘International Concern’ by WHO

[A UK] County's masterplan to deal with flu pandemic


Monday, November 3, 2008

Mr Rawles:
My sister-in-law works for one of the large food bakeries. They make a well-known cracker that is purchased by a large portion of the US population every day. She manages health and safety for a number of their bakeries and recently attended a conference on pandemics hosted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC is holding these conferences for companies producing staple foodstuffs as they say it isn't "if" we will see a flu pandemic but "when".
The conference was a real eye-opener for my sister-in-law. The CDC says that we will either have a flu pandemic or avian flu pandemic within the next 10 years (likely earlier rather than later). The following recommendations for key personnel of the bakery was provided by the CDC as they believe we will see absenteeism over 50% during a pandemic. They want food manufacturers to be able to continue production during a pandemic.
Here are the top three:
1. Have a supply of Tamiflu on hand. Roche offers companies a program that will store Tamiflu for them in advance for a fee. Roche will rotate the stock on a regular basis to guarantee freshness and ship it immediately to key personnel in the event of a pandemic. Individuals should get their physician to write a prescription and keep some on hand. Tamiflu will be in short supply during a pandemic.
2. Get a flu shot every year. The CDC is making a concerted effort to get flu shots offered to everyone, not just targeted groups anymore.
3. Get a pneumonia vaccination. Pneumonia is the actual cause of death in many flu cases. The CDC is now recommending that key personnel get this vaccine. Many flu shot clinics also offer the pneumococcal vaccine as well. You will have to be persistent in requesting it as they are hesitant to give it to the general population. The CDC is trying to limit it in order to keep it available for targeted groups.
It will be very difficult to limit contact to both other people and livestock in the event of a pandemic. By following these three recommendations, you should be able to reduce your chances of dying during a pandemic. - Rangemaster

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mr. Rawles,
I have been trying to find out more about the consequences of a polar shift, particularly the effects it will have on the Great Lakes Region. I know that no one really knows what will happen, but everything I've seen points to something really really bad. If possible could you post what knowledge you may have on the subject on SurvivalBlog?
Thank you, - Scott from Michigan

JWR Replies: Rapid pole shift is a little more than an unsupported theory, touted mainly by the Art Bell crowd. In my opinion it should be one of the least of your worries. Even if rapid magnetic pole reversal does happen (and there is far more evidence that very gradual pole movement is what actually occurs), it might be a "once in 100,000 years" event. Instead of concentrating on that, you should get ready for a major economic depression, which is demonstrably a "once-every-few-generations" event. And, BTW, a depression seems to be unfolding now, right before our eyes. Also consider what you'll need to do to be ready for a pandemic influenza. Such pandemics are more likely "once-every-few-generations" events.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I have been reading SurvivalBlog now for several months and really enjoyed the articles. I live in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia . For those who don’t know the place and I imagine there are many who are unfamiliar with this part of the world, it’s an island at the bottom of Australia.

I work on disease protection for the government. This involves responding to bird flu pandemics, terrorist attacks etc. Being an island at the bottom of the world with not many threats, it’s an easy job. But I do believe that there is lots of trouble coming in the future from climate change, increasing world populations in areas that cannot support any more people, Peak Oil, et cetera. So in my view, thinking people should prepare for trouble ahead and develop personal plans for survival.

The reason I have written in today is that from some of the posts that people have submitted to SurvivalBlog, many are planning just for total breakdown in society, everyone for themselves, point the guns out the door and survive at all costs. From my limited reading and understanding of such situations, total breakdown would only occur in extreme events like total nuclear war. For example, even in Germany during war time with the Russians advancing one direction, and the allies the other, it had a functioning society where you could buy goods and services and the government still functioned. Thus perhaps people should have several plans. One for total breakdown (like nuclear war), one for minor disruptions like financial meltdowns/depressions and another for global pandemics/biological warfare.

Hopefully we will only experience minor disruptions and we should have already planned ahead by growing as much of our own food as possible, reduced our mortgages, moved closer to work, kept food stocks, stored heating fuel etc. Being prepared for something to happen tomorrow will lessen people's reliance on the modern supermarket and the expected doubling of prices, shortages etc. In the event of a pandemic, then avoiding public places and other people is a very good idea, so food stocks will help and being able to work from home is a major advantage.

My point is that people need to plan for a number of scenarios, not just "let's retreat and point the guns". I personally will be trying to help my community survive any disruption, for the sake of my children, loved ones and country. Previous generations have faced bad times before and moved through them without losing their sense of community. My grandfather used to tell me about life during the Depression, where he used to hunt rabbits and other game to stretch the family budget and how they used to reuse things to save money. You could buy things, but you just didn’t have any money. But even during those hard times he said there was always a strong community spirit and they always helped out others who were less able to cope. We should all plan for being able to help others by being self reliant.

Lastly if people want to relocate to an area that is not targeted for nuclear war, has a modern economy, speaks English, and has less than half a million people in an area the size of Ireland, then move here to Tasmania. We even like Americans. - M. L.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I appreciate everything that you and your readers are doing to help change the mindset of people around the world.
I was reviewing the May/June issue of a health care trade magazine that contained a report on a simulation carried out in Philadelphia at the start of this year dealing with pandemic influenza. While much of the discussion was relevant only to health insurers, the scenario that served as the simulation is detailed below. Readers can draw their own conclusions of the type of things that they should prepare for.

The following is exerted from: Raymond, A.G. (2008). Pandemic Influenza. AHIP Coverage. 49(3), 18:

A Simulation: Twelve "All-Too-Real" Weeks of Pandemic Influenza

After years of warnings a deadly flu grips the city [Philadelphia]. As the simulation begins, 2,000 suspected cases of pandemic flu have been reported in the Greater Philadelphia area, with at least 13 deaths. State and local health officials are starting to carry out the CDC's recommendation to isolate and treat with antiviral medications anyone with confirmed or suspected pandemic influenza, and encourage people to reduce contacts that might spread the virus. People who are infected can be contagious for a day or more before they develop symptoms, which range from fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, to severe respiratory diseases and other life-threatening complications.

Soon, doctors' offices and hospitals are inundated with the sick and "worried well". Hospitals report ER waiting times as high as 15 hours with few beds available for new admissions. Medical personnel are stretched to the limit, and some are showing signs of infection.

Businesses are experiencing high rates of absenteeism, and schools are closing. Domestic and international travel and shipments are slowed or cease entirely. Groceries and pharmacies are quickly emptied of essential supplies and restaurants and malls are empty.

The medical, economic and social consequences are devastating.

After nine weeks, the number of cases in the Philadelphia area has escalated to more than 100,000, deaths are in the thousands, and the city's hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed as they try to provide adequate care for huge numbers of victims along with their usual patient population. Morgues, hospital mortuaries, and funeral homes are challenged in their ability to care properly for the soaring number of dead.

Public safety and sanitation are major concerns, critical medical and food supplies are running low, and much of the economy has come to a standstill because of high employee absenteeism and a lack of customers. Internet and cell phone service is disrupted as home workers create system overload, and service workers are unavailable to respond. Normal everyday activities end as people avoid shopping, dining out, and social gatherings of all kinds.

The first wave is ending; attention turns to recovery and preparation for a second.

At week 12, the number of new infections is subsiding, but a second wave of pandemic flu is spreading overseas. In the USA, an estimated 40 million people have been infected and nearly one million have died, including 25,000 in the Greater Philadelphia area.

The economy is in free fall. As consumers limited their spending, business have cut back production and laid-off workers, and small businesses are closing altogether. Antivirals and antibiotics are scarce, vaccines for the pandemic strains are still months away, and the medical system is still short on staff, beds and supplies. Fear and isolation have taken a heavy toll on the public, with increasing accounts of depression and other signs of stress. Can the city begin to recover and also prepare for a second-wave pandemic?

For now, this is only a simulation. - Dave in Alabama.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dear JWR:
I feel that there is a strong premonition in the article you flagged on Wednesday (Who Should Doctors Let Die in a Pandemic?) This hit the Main Stream Media (MSM) early this week and quickly fell off the news cycle. The topic is simply too uncomfortable. The original articles were published in the medical journal Chest (The Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians and are very dry and difficult reading even for a physician. This is unfortunate because it is a salient topic which needs to be vigorously publicly debated (instead of who got voted off – insert various “reality TV” show). It has specific implications for those of us reading your SurvivalBlog. Several recent postings in SurvivalBlog (specifically two discussions initiated by questions raised by DS in Wisconsin ) show this to be a paramount topic.

I would like to address some of these issues by means of an analogy to the area I live and work. We have a typical, financially struggling, small (100 bed) non-profit hospital serving a population area of approximately 50,000. Down the road is the “Medical Mecca” (actually more than one) with total bed capacity in the thousands. Our small hospital has an 8-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) which is always full, with the typical patient in one of the various states of terminal disease processes. When a critical care patient leaves the Operating Room (OR), there is the usual story of “Musical Beds”, where a patient has to be transferred to “make room” in the ICU. This usually involves transferring the least critical patient to the “Step Down Unit” (SDU). ICU patient transfers to the “ Mecca ” typically takes 24-48 hours because their beds are also constantly full. Our hospital owns four ICU ventilators, and if the number of patients requiring ventilation exceeds this, additional units have to be delivered from the “medical supply house”, which also provides rental units to the “Medical Mecca”. Due to financial constraints, there is no “surge capacity” in the system. In the typical bureaucratic system, the “mirage” of available space is accomplished by simply “redefining” a given patient from “Intensive Care” to something less, either wholly inside our hospital or by including the “Mecca” in the system (as in a “larger” system). [JWR Adds: I briefly discussed the chronic shortage of ventilators in my static article on Asian Avian Influenza. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the shortfalls in medical delivery infrastructure!]

The issues addressed by the articles in Chest concerned Emergency Mass Critical Care (EMCC) events, prototypically pandemic influenza. In such a situation, even the “mirage” of available space breaks down because you cannot “enlarge” the system by including more “geographical” area since each additional area is encompassed by the same problem. The currently circulating “bird flu” H5N1 is a particularly nasty bug, more closely resembling the various “hemorrhagic fevers” than typical influenza when infecting humans. The syndrome includes pulmonary edema (fluid collecting in the lungs, i.e. drowning in own secretions), disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) (internal bleeding) and multi-system organ failure (kidney and/or heart failure, etc.). Treatment typically includes intensive hemodynamic and ventilatory support until the body can clear the infection and heal. Even in our relatively rural area, it would not be unreasonable to expect to have tens, if not hundreds, of patients needing this level support in order to survive. The “Mecca ” will see proportionately more demand.

The recommendations of the authors of the Chest articles are well reasoned and intelligent, but totally impractical in our financially strapped and egalitarian healthcare system. These recommendations include providing for the ability to surge to three times the ICU capacity and provide for 10 days of service without resupply. Due to shortages of trained nurses, our ICU depends on locum tenens (contract agency) nurses to staff the ICU and medical care is provided by a single pulmonologist (physician specializing in lung diseases). It is totally impractical from a staffing issue to provide 3x surge capacity. As far as inventory, 10 days is an eternity. Where will the money come from to stockpile these items and medications (our hospital only has about 30 days of operating cash on hand)? Will the staff forego a paycheck in order for this to occur? Additionally, the “medical supply house” typically only has a couple of unissued ventilators at any given time, before having to “tap into” their larger supply chain (i.e. maybe a dozen or so “extra” in the entire State). Where do you expect these to be issued in such a crisis (try not to be cynical, but I suspect it will be near the State capitol)?

The most difficult (albeit the most logical) recommendations concerns the rationing of the scarce healthcare resources. They suggest that the effort should go to those most likely to survive, instead of those likely to die (i.e. those most likely to benefit from the therapy). This is described as making a medical decision for the entire population, instead of an individual patient. The goal is to maximize survival in the population (at the expense of individual survival). The difficult question is: Who should get the resources and whom should be “redefined” into the “expectant” (i.e. expected to die) category? Should the ventilator go to the college student with severe pulmonary edema or the nursing home patient with the stroke? Should the neonatal/pediatric ICU bed space go to the 20 week premature infant or the previously healthy two year old? If only these decisions would be this straightforward. Who is going to tell the family that grandmother doesn’t meet criteria? Who is going to care for the other patients while the situation is explained (repeatedly) to these families (typically hours with each family)? Do you think that that family will quietly accept the decision or will there be riots? Do you ever wonder why during a food riot, the first thing destroyed is the bakery? Do you think healthcare providers will show up for work at an armed camp with constant rioting or stay home and care for their own family? Would you go to work in a similar situation?

As in most things health related, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With communicable diseases, isolation and personal hygiene are the most important. These are issues which do not need to be described to the SurvivalBlog family (look at the archives), but should be seriously discussed within your own family/group. In regards to the questions raised concerning emergency medical transport and personal/retreat medical stockpiling, it is an important consideration. In such a crisis situation, transportation is likely to be futile, if not fatal. While nobody should expect to have a personal ventilator in their medical kit, a supply of IV fluids and electrolyte preparation should be standard for those who know how to administer it. Antipyretics (fever reducers) and antispasmodics/antiemetics (diarrhea and nausea medication) should also be standard fare as well as easily digestible foods. A broad-spectrum antibiotic would also be warranted for bacterial superinfection, although everyone should already know that antibiotics do not treat viral infections. The data on antivirals (amantadine, rimantadine and oseltamivir/Tamiflu) is inconclusive at best and contradictory at worst concerning H5N1 [Asian Avian Influenza], but if they are available it may be prudent to have some on hand.

It is unfortunate that the public discussion of this topic has died such an untimely death. Perhaps a little more debate would spare a few hospitals from the ultimate riots, but I am not enthusiastic, human nature being what it is. In this era of “Hope and Change”, especially with regards to healthcare, it will undoubtedly be continued deterioration. We will continue to spend the majority of healthcare dollars in the last six months of life, instead of helping the survival of those most likely to survive. In summary, logical evaluation of such a crisis leads to an illogical result (riots and destruction of the healthcare system). We will likely be left with taking care of ourselves and our family. - NC Bluedog

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Please pass on a reminder to people to prepare themselves with a plan and supplies to deal with for the inevitable event [of an Avian Influenza outbreak]. Begin by practicing impeccable agricultural hygiene and discouraging any visitation of persons near their barn yards, hen houses and migratory wildlife flocks of geese or ducks on or near their ponds, open water sources or feed sources. This is best done with a couple of good herding type dogs who don’t mind getting their feet wet in the ponds or on the property watering holes. Our chickens are free range, yet they are blocked from the access of the open water sources, and their supple mental food and calcium sources are kept away from access of migrating and indigenous species of birds. The dogs also help with poultry predatory losses from fox, coons and hawks. - KBF

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Start your retreat stocking effort by first composing a List of Lists, then draft prioritized lists for each subject, on separate sheets of paper. (Or in a spreadsheet if you are a techno-nerd like me. Just be sure to print out a hard copy for use when the power grid goes down!) It is important to tailor your lists to suit your particular geography, climate, and population density as well as your peculiar needs and likes/dislikes. Someone setting up a retreat in a coastal area is likely to have a far different list than someone living in the Rockies.

As I often mention in my lectures and radio interviews, a great way to create truly commonsense preparedness lists is to take a three-day weekend TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” with your family. When you come home from work on Friday evening, turn off your main circuit breaker, turn off your gas main (or propane tank), and shut your main water valve (or turn off your well pump.) Spend that weekend in primitive conditions. Practice using only your storage food, preparing it on a wood stove (or camping stove.)

A “TEOTWAWKI Weekend Experiment” will surprise you. Things that you take for granted will suddenly become labor intensive. False assumptions will be shattered. Your family will grow closer and more confident. Most importantly, some of the most thorough lists that you will ever make will be those written by candlelight.

Your List of Lists should include: (Sorry that this post is in outline form, but it would take a full length book to discus all of the following in great detail)

Water List
Food Storage List
Food Preparation List
Personal List
First Aid /Minor Surgery List
Nuke Defense List
Biological Warfare Defense List
Gardening List
Hygiene List/Sanitation List
Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
Power/Lighting/Batteries List
Fuels List
Firefighting List
Tactical Living List
Communications/Monitoring List
Tools List
Sundries List
Survival Bookshelf List
Barter and Charity List

JWR’s Specific Recommendations For Developing Your Lists:

Water List
House downspout conversion sheet metal work and barrels. (BTW, this is another good reason to upgrade your retreat to a fireproof metal roof.)
Drawing water from open sources. Buy extra containers. Don’t buy big barrels, since five gallon food grade buckets are the largest size that most people can handle without back strain.
For transporting water if and when gas is too precious to waste, buy a couple of heavy duty two wheel garden carts--convert the wheels to foam filled "no flats" tires. (BTW, you will find lots of other uses for those carts around your retreat, such as hauling hay, firewood, manure, fertilizer, et cetera.)
Treating water. Buy plain Clorox hypochlorite bleach. A little goes a long way. Buy some extra half-gallon bottles for barter and charity. If you can afford it, buy a “Big Berky” British Berkefeld ceramic water filter. (Available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. Even if you have pure spring water at your retreat, you never know where you may end up, and a good filter could be a lifesaver.)

Food Storage List
See my post tomorrow which will be devoted to food storage. Also see the recent letter from David in Israel on this subject.

Food Preparation List

Having more people under your roof will necessitate having an oversize skillet and a huge stew pot. BTW, you will want to buy several huge kettles, because odds are you will have to heat water on your wood stove for bathing, dish washing, and clothes washing. You will also need even more kettles, barrels, and 5 or 6 gallon PVC buckets--for water hauling, rendering, soap making, and dying. They will also make great barter or charity items. (To quote my mentor Dr. Gary North: “Nails: buy a barrel of them. Barrels: Buy a barrel of them!”)
Don’t overlook skinning knives, gut-buckets, gambrels, and meat saws.

Personal List
(Make a separate personal list for each family member and individual expected to arrive at your retreat.)
Spare glasses.
Prescription and nonprescription medications.
Birth control.
Keep dentistry up to date.
Any elective surgery that you've been postponing
Work off that gut.
Stay in shape.
Back strength and health—particularly important, given the heavy manual tasks required for self-sufficiency.
Educate yourself on survival topics, and practice them. For example, even if you don’t presently live at your retreat, you should plant a vegetable garden every year. It is better to learn through experience and make mistakes now, when the loss of crop is an annoyance rather than a crucial event.
“Comfort” items to help get through high stress times. (Books, games, CDs, chocolates, etc.)

First Aid /Minor Surgery List
When tailoring this list, consider your neighborhood going for many months without power, extensive use of open flames, and sentries standing picket shifts exposed in the elements. Then consider axes, chainsaws and tractors being wielded by newbies, and a greater likelihood of gunshot wounds. With all of this, add the possibility of no access to doctors or high tech medical diagnostic equipment. Put a strong emphasis on burn treatment first aid supplies. Don’t overlook do-it-yourself dentistry! (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction tools, et cetera.) Buy a full minor surgery outfit (inexpensive Pakistani stainless steel instruments), even if you don’t know how to use them all yet. You may have to learn, or you will have the opportunity to put them in the hands of someone experienced who needs them.) This is going to be a big list!

Chem/Nuke Defense List
Dosimeter and rate meter, and charger, radiac meter (hand held Geiger counter), rolls of sheet plastic (for isolating airflow to air filter inlets and for covering window frames in the event that windows are broken due to blast effects), duct tape, HEPA filters (ands spares) for your shelter. Potassium iodate (KI) tablets to prevent thyroid damage.(See my recent post on that subject.) Outdoor shower rig for just outside your shelter entrance.

Biological Warfare Defense List
Hand Sanitizer
Sneeze masks
Colloidal silver generator and spare supplies (distilled water and .999 fine silver rod.)
Natural antibiotics (Echinacea, Tea Tree oil, …)

Gardening List
One important item for your gardening list is the construction of a very tall deer-proof and rabbit-proof fence. Under current circumstances, a raid by deer on your garden is probably just an inconvenience. After the balloon goes up, it could mean the difference between eating well, and starvation.
Top Soil/Amendments/Fertilizers.
Tools+ spares for barter/charity
Long-term storage non hybrid (open pollinated) seed. (Non-hybrid “heirloom” seed assortments tailors to different climate zones are available from The Ark Institute
Herbs: Get started with medicinal herbs such as aloe vera (for burns), echinacea (purple cone flower), valerian, et cetera.

Hygiene/Sanitation List
Sacks of powdered lime for the outhouse. Buy plenty!
TP in quantity (Stores well if kept dry and away from vermin and it is lightweight, but it is very bulky. This is a good item to store in the attic. See my novel about stocking up on used phone books for use as TP.
Soap in quantity (hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, cleansers, etc.)
Bottled lye for soap making.
Ladies’ supplies.
Toothpaste (or powder).
Fluoride rinse. (Unless you have health objections to the use of fluoride.)
Livestock List:
Hoof rasp, hoof nippers, hoof pick, horse brushes, hand sheep shears, styptic, carding combs, goat milking stand, teat dip, udder wash, Bag Balm, elastrator and bands, SWOT fly repellent, nail clippers (various sizes), Copper-tox, leads, leashes, collars, halters, hay hooks, hay fork, manure shovel, feed buckets, bulk grain and C-O-B sweet feed (store in galvanized trash cans with tight fitting lids to keep the mice out), various tack and saddles, tack repair tools, et cetera. If your region has selenium deficient soil (ask your local Agricultural extension office) then be sure to get selenium-fortified salt blocks rather than plain white salt blocks--at least for those that you are going to set aside strictly for your livestock.

Hunting/Fishing/Trapping List
“Buckshot” Bruce Hemming has produced an excellent series of videos on trapping and making improvised traps. (He also sells traps and scents at very reasonable prices.)
Night vision gear, spares, maintenance, and battery charging
Salt. Post-TEOTWAWKI, don’t “go hunting.” That would be a waste of effort. Have the game come to you. Buy 20 or more salt blocks. They will also make very valuable barter items.
Sell your fly fishing gear (all but perhaps a few flies) and buy practical spin casting equipment.
Extra tackle may be useful for barter, but probably only in a very long term Crunch.
Buy some frog gigs if you have bullfrogs in your area. Buy some crawfish traps if you have crawfish in your area.
Learn how to rig trot lines and make fish traps for non-labor intensive fishing WTSHTF.

Power/Lighting/Batteries List
One proviso: In the event of a “grid down” situation, if you are the only family in the area with power, it could turn your house into a “come loot me” beacon at night. At the same time, your house lighting will ruin the night vision of your LP/OP pickets. Make plans and buy materials in advance for making blackout screens or fully opaque curtains for your windows.
When possible, buy nickel metal hydride batteries. (Unlike the older nickel cadmium technology, these have no adverse charge level “memory” effect.)
If your home has propane appliances, get a “tri-fuel” generator--with a carburetor that is selectable between gasoline, propane, and natural gas. If you heat your home with home heating oil, then get a diesel-burning generator. (And plan on getting at least one diesel burning pickup and/or tractor). In a pinch, you can run your diesel generator and diesel vehicles on home heating oil.
Kerosene lamps; plenty of extra wicks, mantles, and chimneys. (These will also make great barter items.)
Greater detail on do-it-yourself power will be included in my forthcoming blog posts.

Fuels List
Buy the biggest propane, home heating oil, gas, or diesel tanks that your local ordinances permit and that you can afford. Always keep them at least two-thirds full. For privacy concerns, ballistic impact concerns, and fire concerns, underground tanks are best if you local water table allows it. In any case, do not buy an aboveground fuel tank that would visible from any public road or navigable waterway. Buy plenty of extra fuel for barter. Don’t overlook buying plenty of kerosene. (For barter, you will want some in one or two gallon cans.) Stock up on firewood or coal. (See my previous blog posts.) Get the best quality chainsaw you can afford. I prefer Stihls and Husqavarnas. If you can afford it, buy two of the same model. Buy extra chains, critical spare parts, and plenty of two-cycle oil. (Two-cycle oil will be great for barter!) Get a pair of Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps. They are expensive but they might save yourself a trip to the emergency room. Always wear gloves, goggles, and ear-muffs. Wear a logger’s helmet when felling. Have someone who is well experienced teach you how to re-sharpen chains. BTW, don’t cut up your wood into rounds near any rocks or you will destroy a chain in a hurry.

Firefighting List
Now that you have all of those flammables on hand (see the previous list) and the prospect of looters shooting tracer ammo or throwing Molotov cocktails at your house, think in terms of fire fighting from start to finish without the aid of a fire department. Even without looters to consider, you should be ready for uncontrolled brush or residential fires, as well as the greater fire risk associated with greenhorns who have just arrived at your retreat working with wood stoves and kerosene lamps!
Upgrade your retreat with a fireproof metal roof.
2” water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide large water volume for firefighting)
Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
Smoke and CO detectors.

Tactical Living List
Adjust your wardrobe buying toward sturdy earth-tone clothing. (Frequent your local thrift store and buy extras for retreat newcomers, charity, and barter.)
Dyes. Stock up on some boxes of green and brown cloth dye. Buy some extra for barter. With dye, you can turn most light colored clothes into semi-tactical clothing on short notice.
Two-inch wide burlap strip material in green and brown. This burlap is available in large spools from Gun Parts Corp. Even if you don’t have time now, stock up so that you can make camouflage ghillie suits post-TEOTWAWKI.
Save those wine corks! (Burned cork makes quick and cheap face camouflage.)
Cold weather and foul weather gear—buy plenty, since you will be doing more outdoor chores, hunting, and standing guard duty.
Don’t overlook ponchos and gaiters.
Mosquito repellent.
Synthetic double-bag (modular) sleeping bags for each person at the retreat, plus a couple of spares. The Wiggy’s brand Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) made by Wiggy's of Grand Junction, Colorado is highly recommended.
Night vision gear + IR floodlights for your retreat house
Subdued flashlights and penlights.
Noise, light, and litter discipline. (More on this in future posts--or perhaps a reader would like to send a brief article on this subject)
Security-General: Locks, intrusion detection/alarm systems, exterior obstacles (fences, gates, 5/8” diameter (or larger) locking road cables, rosebush plantings, “decorative” ponds (moats), ballistic protection (personal and residential), anti-vehicular ditches/berms, anti-vehicular concrete “planter boxes”, razor wire, etc.)
Starlight electronic light amplification scopes are critical tools for retreat security.
A Starlight scope (or goggles, or a monocular) literally amplifies low ambient light by up to 100,000 times, turning nighttime darkness into daylight--albeit a green and fuzzy view. Starlight light amplification technology was first developed during the Vietnam War. Late issue Third Generation (also called or “Third Gen” or “Gen 3”) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,500 each. Rebuilt first gen (early 1970s technology scopes can often be had for as little as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for under $100. One Russian model that uses a piezoelectric generator instead of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used as backups (in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars you can afford. They may be life-savers! If you can afford to buy only one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or better) tube. Make sure to specify that that the tube is new or “low hours”, has a high “line pair” count, and minimal scintillation. It is important to buy your Starlight gear from a reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists and scammers. One dealer that I trust, is Al Glanze (spoken “Glan-zee”) who runs STANO Components, Inc. in Silver City, Nevada. Note: In a subsequent blog posts I will discuss the relationship and implications to IR illuminators and tritium sights.
Range cards and sector sketches.
If you live in the boonies, piece together nine of the USGS 15-minute maps, with your retreat property on the center map. Mount that map on an oversize map board. Draw in the property lines and owner names of all of your surrounding neighbor’s parcels (in pencil) in at least a five mile radius. (Get boundary line and current owner name info from your County Recorder’s office.) Study and memorize both the terrain and the neighbors’ names. Make a phone number/e-mail list that corresponds to all of the names marked on the map, plus city and county office contact numbers for quick reference and tack it up right next to the map board. Cover the whole map sheet with a sheet of heavy-duty acetate, so you can mark it up just like a military commander’s map board. (This may sound a bit “over the top”, but remember, you are planning for the worst case. It will also help you get to know your neighbors: When you are introduced by name to one of them when in town, you will be able to say, “Oh, don’t you live about two miles up the road between the Jones place and the Smith’s ranch?” They will be impressed, and you will seem like an instant “old timer.”

Security-Firearms List
Guns, ammunition, web gear, eye and ear protection, cleaning equipment, carrying cases, scopes, magazines, spare parts, gunsmithing tools, targets and target frames, et cetera. Each rifle and pistol should have at least six top quality (original military contract or original manufacturer) full capacity spare magazines. Note: Considerable detail on firearms and optics selection, training, use, and logistic support are covered in the SurvivalBlog archives and FAQs.

Communications/Monitoring List
When selecting radios buy only models that will run on 12 volt DC power or rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery packs (that can be recharged from your retreat’s 12 VDC power system without having to use an inverter.)
As a secondary purchasing goal, buy spare radios of each type if you can afford them. Keep your spares in sealed metal boxes to protect them from EMP.
If you live in a far inland region, I recommend buying two or more 12 VDC marine band radios. These frequencies will probably not be monitored in your region, leaving you an essentially private band to use. (But never assume that any two-way radio communications are secure!)
Note: More detail on survival communications gear selection, training, use, security/cryptography measures, antennas, EMP protection, and logistical support will be covered in forthcoming blog posts.

Tools List
Gardening tools.
Auto mechanics tools.
Bolt cutters--the indispensable “universal key.”
Woodworking tools.
Gunsmithing tools.
Emphasis on hand powered tools.
Hand or treadle powered grinding wheel.
Don’t forget to buy plenty of extra work gloves (in earth tone colors).
Sundries List:
Systematically list the things that you use on a regular basis, or that you might need if the local hardware store were to ever disappear: wire of various gauges, duct tape, reinforced strapping tape, chain, nails, nuts and bolts, weather stripping, abrasives, twine, white glue, cyanoacrylate glue, et cetera.

Book/Reference List

You should probably have nearly every book on my Bookshelf page. For some, you will want to have two or three copies, such as Carla Emery’s "Encyclopedia of Country Living". This is because these books are so valuable and indispensable that you won’t want to risk lending out your only copy.

Barter and Charity List
For your barter list, acquire primarily items that are durable, non-perishable, and either in small packages or that are easily divisible. Concentrate on the items that other people are likely to overlook or have in short supply. Some of my favorites are ammunition. [The late] Jeff Cooper referred to it as “ballistic wampum.” WTSHTF, ammo will be worth nearly its weight in silver. Store all of your ammo in military surplus ammo cans (with seals that are still soft) and it will store for decades. Stick to common calibers, get plenty of .22 LR (most high velocity hollow points) plus at least ten boxes of the local favorite deer hunting cartridge, even if you don’t own a rifle chambered for this cartridge. (Ask your local sporting goods shop about their top selling chamberings). Also buy at least ten boxes of the local police department’s standard pistol cartridge, again even if you don’t own a pistol chambered for this cartridge.
Ladies supplies.
Salt (Buy lots of cattle blocks and 1 pound canisters of iodized table salt.)
(Stores indefinitely if kept dry.)
Two cycle engine oil (for chain saw gas mixing. Gas may still be available after a collapse, but two-cycle oil will probably be like liquid gold!)
Gas stabilizer.
Diesel antibacterial additive.
50-pound sacks of lime (for outhouses).
1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner and Break Free (or similar) lubricant.
Waterproof dufflebags in earth tone colors (whitewater rafting "dry bags").
Thermal socks.
Semi-waterproof matches (from military rations.)
Military web gear (lots of folks will suddenly need pistol belts, holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
Pre-1965 silver dimes.
1-gallon cans of kerosene.
Rolls of olive drab parachute cord.
Rolls of olive-drab duct tape.
Spools of monofilament fishing line.
Rolls of 10 mil "Visqueen", sheet plastic (for replacing windows, isolating airspaces for nuke scenarios, etc.)
I also respect the opinion of one gentleman with whom I've corresponded, who recommended the following:
Strike anywhere matches. (Dip the heads in paraffin to make them waterproof.)
Playing cards.
Cooking spices. (Do a web search for reasonably priced bulk spices.)
Rope & string.
Sewing supplies.
Candle wax and wicking.
Lastly, any supplies necessary for operating a home-based business. Some that you might consider are: leather crafting, small appliance repair, gun repair, locksmithing, et cetera. Every family should have at least one home-based business (preferably two!) that they can depend on in the event of an economic collapse.
Stock up on additional items to dispense to refugees as charity.
Note: See the Barter Faire chapter in my novel "Patriots" for lengthy lists of potential barter items.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Throughout my life I have been caught unprepared several times and while nothing seriously bad happened, it easily could have.  I have been lost hiking.  My car has broken down in very bad neighborhoods - twice.  I have been close enough to riots that I feared they would spread to my neighborhood, been in earthquakes, been too close to wildfires, been stuck in a blizzard, and have been without power and water for several days after a hurricane.   I managed to get myself out of each situation, I thanked God, and tried to learn from my mistakes.  I could have avoided these situations or made them much less unsafe and worrisome if I had been more aware and prepared.  I have also tried to learn from the mistakes of others so as to not learn everything the hard way.  One group I assisted was a two hour drive into the mountains, out of gas, wearing tee shirts, and had empty water bottles (at least they kept them) (I have made each of those mistakes but not all at the same time). 

I aspire to be more prepared the next time.  My preparedness includes many different aspects.  In my opinion, the most important thing I have done is to learn as much as possible about what to expect and how to deal with those situations.  The other important thing that gives me some piece of mind is that I carry and stock away water, food, ammo, books, and other tools and equipment that should help me survive a bad situation.  Be prepared!

The other inspiration for my preparations is my family.  Seeing my family suffer from lack of water or food would be very hard for me, especially if some easy and cheap preparations could have made a big difference.  Recently, a few friends and family have asked me about my preparations and how they might prepare.  I didn't have a good short answer because I have spent years learning and stocking away.  I thought of myself as more of a student than a teacher in this area, but now I think I do know enough to give some basic advice and refer them to good sources for more.  Hopefully, they (and you) can learn from my mistakes without having to waste time, energy and money on things that don't work.  Of course, I haven't been through every situation or disaster but I have made it through a few tough spots without losing my head.  My advice is based upon what I know to work and also what sounds like it would work with the minimum fuss.  I always prefer the cheap, easy, home-made solution, but sometimes it is worth the cost to get a quality item that is just too hard to improvise or where the manufactured solution is much better (such as a knife).  Keep it simple stupid (KISS) when you can.  With persistence you can get a lot done $20 at a time.

The purpose of this document is to give an overview of preparedness and the first steps to take.  I focus more on the why than the what so that you can tailor your preparedness to your own situation and budget.  I will also cite the best sources I have found for more information.  There is a lot of information out there in books, classes, web sites, and forums. Most of it is good but it is also really repetitious and overwhelming.  This document is only about 15 pages printed out (you are printing important information (not necessarily this) aren't you - since in an emergency you may not have power and need to take the information with you).  I try to keep my important preparedness documents in an expandable file folder with a tie inside a plastic crate.

What are you preparing for?

No one really knows what will be the next survival situation they will face or how it will play out (will it get worse before it gets better?).  It could be getting lost hiking, the car getting two flats in the middle of the desert, a hurricane, a home invasion, an earthquake, or a terrorist attack.  You must assess your own situation and determine what you need to prepare for.  Of course some preparations will be useful in many situations including everyday life, and these are the best type.

In order to get an idea of what to prepare for, look at the types of situations that you or people similar to you have been through.  Also, assess where you live or spend a lot of time such as work and vacation.  We need to learn from the past but without fighting the last war. 

I like hiking and being outdoors, so for me learning how not to get lost and how to stay alive in the outdoors are high priorities.  These skills may also come in handy if I need to walk to safety during a terrorist attack because all of the roads and public transportation are closed.  Living in your house without power or water isn't too different from camping except for the nice roof over your head and all of your stuff.  I have also taken a first aid class.  It is pretty limited in coverage but still useful in a variety of situations.

To assess the likely dangers to where I live and work I used several sources including FEMA (free guide), DHS, Disaster Center, Emergency Essentials, Two Tigers and CBS.  Also, find your local emergency response office.  But don't rely on the government too much for planning or for help.  As we relearned with the Katrina response, their information and advice is far from perfect.  And FEMA has always said it will take 72 hours to respond.  So the way I look at it, during Katrina, FEMA (and local governments) failed to live up to its own low expectations.  But even if FEMA had been able to provide more food and water, you would still be much better off taking care of yourself.  Do you really want to be told what possessions you can hold, when to eat, when to sleep, and live in close quarters with thousands of strangers?  Sounds like prison to me.

It's A Disaster is a good book that will get you started on a plan for most disasters.  Some of their plans are a little passive for me (don't take any risks and follow all FEMA directions) and their kits lack some important things like knives.  Still, it is a very good book and a great start.  Family and friends should be included in your planning and preparations as much as they want to be, but be careful about telling people who you do not trust or know well.  You do not want to become a target in a crisis.

I think one of the best sources for thinking about what you are preparing for and what does and doesn't work is news and first hand accounts.  These are some of the best ones I have found.  A few of them seem kind of glib and bravado but the advice seems sound.

True Stories of Survival

Hurricane Katrina:

Argentina thread 1:

Argentina thread 2 (some swearing):

Airplane crash:

Ground Zero:

Karen Hood's Survival Journal (a week in the wilderness)

Sailing to Hawaii



A list of stories


The survival Rule of Threes:

  • It takes about three seconds to die without thinking
  • It takes about three minutes to die without air
  • It takes about three hours to die without shelter
  • It takes about three days to die without water
  • It takes about three weeks to die without food
  • It takes about three months to die without hope
  • Try to have at least three ways of preventing each of the above (a backup to your backup).

So the priorities are thinking, air, shelter, water, food, and hope.  These are rules of thumb and approximations.  Also, you will likely start feeling really bad before you die so you need to be proactive in addressing these needs.

Basically, don't panic and do something stupid.  This is easier said than done, but you can build your thinking skill and confidence by playing ‚Äúwhat if‚Äù games. After reading about the risks to your area and the survival stories above, think about what kinds of things could go wrong and how you would deal with them.  The more detail the better.  What would you do if a cat 5 hurricane was projected to hit your house?  Where would you go?  What would you take?  Would it all fit in your car?  Do you have enough gas to get there if the gas stations are closed?  What if you don't have time to leave? What room in your house is safest (can you reinforce it easily)?

If you are facing a serious situation but no immediate threat, take the time to consider your options before rushing into a course of action.  Take an inventory of what you have on hand and what is around you.  Think of how each item could help solve one or more of your priorities. 

Thinking about these things may be scary but it will be less scary when it actually happens if you have thought it through.  Focus on what you can do to improve things and not on what you cannot change. Thinking can also be more long term as in learning and planning.  I suggest you read some of the sources below and then come up with a plan for several types of situations that you are likely to face.  But don't delay, you can take some first steps outlined below, such as storing water, right now.  You can then read more, take classes and collect useful items.  Preparing is a process not a one time event.

Having breathable air is not something you usually have to worry about, but it is an immediate priority if you do.  First aide can help with choking and bleeding (which causes the body to not get needed oxygen). Hundreds of people die from carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning every year because of gas leaks and cooking or heating indoors.  Being at altitude can also make it harder to breath.  Finally, a terrorist attack could put dust, chemical, biological, or nuclear contamination in the air or force you into a shelter that needs ventilation.  Be aware of these dangers and have appropriate detectors if possible (smoke, carbon monoxide, etc.).  A wet cloth or hand wipe (carry on airplane) to breathe through can help for dust or smoke.


Shelter is mainly about staying dry and the right temperature, but you also want to avoid sunburn, bugs, animals and other dangers.  Your house is your usual primary shelter but it could become damaged or you may have to evacuate.  You should have emergency repair items on hand such as tarps, lumber, shovels, nails, plastic sheeting, crowbars, and a saw.

Your clothes are your first and most important layer of shelter outdoors.  Clothes protect you from heat, cold and abrasions.  In general silk, wool, and synthetic materials are better than cotton especially to keep you warm in cold wet weather. I find cotton more comfortable especially in hot weather, so I compromise and wear a cotton shirt and shorts, but carry a better shirt, pants and socks in my bag, as well as additional layers and a change of underwear.  This makes my pack a little heavier, but I have been cold and wet in the wilds and that is miserable.  For me, a hat and sunglasses are indispensable.  I try to always carry at least a light water resistant jacket or poncho (with a garbage bag as a backup).  For me, boots are the only sensible walking shoes.  Find some that are rugged and comfortable.  Have extra laces and a backup pair.

You can carry a tent, a tarp or garbage bag for resting and sleeping.  A tarp can make a simple shelter or an elaborate one.  Rope, twine and tape are also useful.  You can carry some type of staff or tent poles or make them with an ax or saw.  Mosquito netting is necessary in some places.

You should have many ways to start a fire since most are cheap and compact.  At least have a lighter, matches, and flint.  You can also build a firebed to sleep in if you have inadequate shelter from the cold.

This is a crucial area that can be helped a lot with very cheap and easy actions before The Schumer Hits The Fan (TSHTF).  This is probably the thing you can do with the highest payoff for amount of effort.  The only problem with water is that it is heavy and can take up a lot of room.  If you have storage room and are staying home this isn't a problem but if you are on the move it can become a driving factor in your progress.  Long term solutions are also difficult if your primary water source (city water or well) goes out and you are not near a river or lake. 

Used plastic soda bottles and orange juice jugs with screw tops make very convenient water storage containers.  Just rinse them a few times with hot water. Old liquor bottles and wine box bladders work well too.  I also have several canteens and rugged 5 gallon containers with taps.  The five gallon containers weigh about 40 pounds each and are about as big as can be easily moved (larger drums can go in your basement or garage or under a rain spout).  A few collapsible containers might also be useful because they can be stored and carried empty.  Tap water can last for years without going bad if kept in a cool dark place.  But you should check water that has been stored for clarity and odors.  If in doubt, treat it with one of the methods below.  You can also freeze the plastic soda or orange juice containers (these do crack sometimes when freezing) and use them in a cooler to keep food cold if the power goes out before drinking it.  If you know a disaster is coming fill up any container you can including the coffee maker, crystal vase, bucket, bathtub, sink, and kiddy pool (some of these could be spilled or contaminated but hopefully some will make it).

Most sources recommend about a gallon per person per day.  People consume about 2 quarts in cool low activity environments but much more if hot or active.  You should have at least 2 weeks worth per person in your primary residence (but why not have months worth if you have the room).  If you are traveling by car, three days worth per person is minimum (more for bathing), and if you are walking take as much as you reasonably can carry but at least one days worth (several small bottles are better for diversification if one leaks and also to let you know to start looking for more water before you are on your last bottle).  I also store extra water for washing and bathing.  Here the container doesn't matter quite as much.  I use old liquid detergent jugs.  You should also have at least two methods of sterilizing water. 

The first step in sterilizing water is to get the water as clear as possible.  If it is cloudy, strain it with coffee filters, a clean cloth, or sand.  Or you can let it settle and pour off the more clear water. 

The primary and most reliable method of sterilizing water is boiling.  You actually do not need to boil the water just heat it past 145 degrees for long enough. But if you don't do it right you can get sick.  So to be safe, boil it for 5 minutes if you can.  If you are walking, a metal cup (enamel or stainless) or a converted tin can is easier to boil than a full pot.  You can carry a backpacking stove or a Kelly Kettle.  You can use solar power to sterilize water (in a soda bottle) if no cooking is possible.  Other stoves are suggested below under food. 

To sterilize water with bleach use 2 drops of plain unscented bleach per quart of water (or 8 drops per gallon or 1‚ÅÑ4 tsp per 2 gallons).  If you don't have a dropper you can wet a paper towel and then drip it (wear gloves).  Let the water sit for 20 minutes and then smell it.  If it smells like chorine then its good to go.  If it doesn't, repeat with the same amount of bleach.  If that doesn't work try to find other water.  (Really bad water or salt water requires a still.)  Bleach is cheap but does not last forever - rotate.  Dry Calcium Hypochlorite {sold as "pool shock" bleach) stores much better than liquid bleach but requires an additional step of mixing a solution. (It provides a very inexpensive long term solution to water treatment).

There are also Potable Aqua iodine tablets that are more compact for sterilizing water.  You can also use Tincture of Iodine.  Iodine and chlorine are poisons so be very careful (kill the bacteria not yourself. [Avoid ingesting chlorine or iodine crystals!])

Any of the chemical treatments can make the water taste funny.  You can use drink mixes to make it taste better.  I'm not sure if sports drinks are really better, but Gatorade seems more thirst quenching to me than water.  The powder form is more convenient and cheaper.  You can also make your own sports drink (1/4 tsp nu salt (potassium chloride), 1‚ÅÑ4 tsp salt, 3-6 tbsp sugar (to taste), juice of 1 lemon (or orange), and optional flavoring (Kool-Aid) per gallon of water) or switchel.        

Of course you can spend money for water if you want to.  You can buy prepackaged water or expensive filters. There are backpacking filters but I have found these to be temperamental.  A water bottle with a filter would be a good backup or a straw. You can also go the more expensive route with a good gravity fed filter like this:  This is a great looking solar still but doesn't appear to be for sale right now. 

If you are a homebrewer (or like beer), you can add some dry malt extract, hops, and dry yeast to your stash.  Beer is boiled as part of the brewing process.  Then the alcohol and hops act as a natural preservative.  For the long term you can get some sproutable barley, grow some hops, and culture yeast.  If you or someone with you doesn't handle alcohol well, skip this. 

Providing food can be as easy or complicated as you want.  The easiest thing to do is simply buy more of any food you normally buy that stores well.  By store well, I mean does not spoil.  Foods like fresh milk, meat and bread do not store well.  Other foods like rice, dried beans and pasta all store well and are cheap.  They eventually lose some of their nutrition but this is gradual and will not make you sick from eating ‚Äúexpired‚Äù food if you forget to rotate.  I do not list exact rotation schedules because every source is different.  Some sources say grains only last one year but most sources say 10 plus years and other credible sources say hundreds or thousands of years.  It all depends upon how it is packed and where it is stored which is discussed below (vacuum packed, cool and dry are best) Canned meats, fruits and vegetables store okay and are more expensive.

How much food you want to have on hand depends on what type of situation you expect and how much you want to spend.  Buying a month' worth of rice, beans, salt, and pasta will not cost much (and is a good start).  You will be a lot happier if you add:

  • canned or dried meat (Costco and BJs have multipaks of Spam, ham, tuna and chicken for under $10)
  • canned or dried fruits and nuts
  • canned or dried vegetables
  • dried potatoes
  • canned or dried sauces (for pasta, chili, etc.)
  • soup mixes (bean soups are cheap) and bullion
  • dried onions
  • parmesan cheese
  • cooking oil
  • ramen noodles
  • peanut butter
  • mayo
  • vinegar
  • sugar and honey
  • powdered milk
  • bread crumbs, stuffing, oatmeal, cereal
  • flour, pancake mix, biscuit mix
  • baking soda
  • cocoa, instant coffee, tea, drink mixes, juice mixes (cranberry)
  • lemon juice
  • dry yeast
  • spices 

Some of these can be eaten without cooking or water if you have to.  Costco is great for the rice, canned goods, bullion, yeast (2 pound box), cooking oil and spices. Don't forget a can opener and other utensils.  Of course you can do the drying (wood or solar) and canning yourself for better quality and lower cost.  The oil, flour, baking soda and yeast (refrigerate the yeast if possible) do not store well and have to be rotated more frequently than the rice, beans and pasta.  You will be healthier if you add some multivitamins.  There are also luxury items like Powerbars, powdered eggs, powdered cheese, powdered butter, food tabs, and meals ready to eat (MREs).

To decide how much you need, you can simply scale up recipes and meals (print some simple recipes that use your stored food).  How much rice and beans would you eat at a meal or in a day if that was all you ate?  A lot probably (make a meal as a trial).  Now multiply that by the number of people and the number of days and you have a ball park of how much to store.  The problem is that you could end up feeding more people than your immediate family.  Who else would you not turn away? (Anyone you wouldn't want to live with normally is not someone you want to be stuck with in a crisis.  That said there is some family I wouldn't turn away even if they deserve it).  Start with the cheap stuff (rice, beans, pasta, salt) and then slowly keeping adding and rotating the other food until you have at least one months worth.  Do an inventory at least twice a year.

Store everything in airtight/waterproof containers inside a tough container in a cool, dry, dark place.  Some things come packed pretty well and can just go in a plastic bucket or crate (cans can be dipped in wax).  Other items should be vacuum packed in small bags or large mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and then put in the plastic bucket with a lid or crate (with a solid latching lid).  If you don't have shelves, you can make shelves out of the buckets or crates and 1‚Äùx12‚Äù lumber.  Put 2‚Äùx4‚Äù's under the bottom shelf to keep it off the floor.

For years worth of food instead of months worth of food we need to move to grain and grain grinders.  The Church of Latter Day Saints are the experts here.  They also have storehouses that will sell to the public if you are polite.  Of course you can buy online but the shipping will be as much or more than the food.  I went cheap and was able to get about six months worth of food for one person for $100.  I stuck to grains (400 lbs/year), beans (40 lbs/year), soup mix (20 lbs/year), and milk (16 lbs/year) (I already had sugar (60 pounds/year), salt (10 lbs/year), oil (5 gallons/year), baking soda and yeast).  I borrowed some of their equipment to pack some of the food, the rest I packed at home in the mylar bags and buckets described above.  The milk is a sticky powder and very messy (think of spilling flour and multiply by 100), repack it outside if possible.  I also bought a hand operated grain grinder to make flour from the wheat.  Then I can make bread (scale this recipe up to one loaf per day for a year as a cross check for a year's supply).  This would be a pretty miserable diet but I think it would keep me alive and healthy if I had enough vitamins.  Because of the sack size I have more of some things than others so towards the end I may be eating paste.  I hope to upgrade later.  For infants you need more milk, oil, sugar, and vitamins from which you can make an emergency formula (breast feeding is better, then you give the extra food to the mother). 

For even longer food solutions you need to farm.  Supplementing your food with a garden or sprouting would also make things last longer and provide some healthy variety.  Its best to have some non-hybrid seeds on hand or save seeds from your garden.  Serious (expensive) seed packages are here.  Have some fertilizer and pesticides on hand but in the long run organic is the way to go.

For cooking you can use a wood burning stove, barbeque, or camp stove in the short run (have some extra fuel on hand).  The Petromax lantern is pricey but well made and also has a stove attachment.  If you don't have one of these or run out of fuel you can build one: a coffee can stove, a bucket stove (avoid galvanized metal), a alcohol stove, a collapsible stove, a tin can stove (simple version), solar oven (portable version), or a clay stove (print directions for making at least one of these).  This is also a good commercial stove for those with cash to burn.  These are much more efficient than an open fire.  You need a good pot or dutch oven for boiling water and cooking.  For more portable food you can go with MREs, make your own or stock what ever you would normally backpack with.

Hope is different for everyone.  It can be safety, comfort, companionship, or normalcy.  For me it is mainly hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I can work hard and persevere if I know eventually things will get better.  This means long term planning.  So I want to have what I need in the short term but also have some hope for the long term (so I have gardening tools and seeds in addition to rice and spam).  You also want comfort items such as a book, Bible, game, coloring book, pictures, beer, tea, or warm shower.  Some of these can be dual purpose such as a book about hiking or gardening, survival playing cards, or a novel about survival and perseverance. 

There are lots of things you can get, but you can also just organize what you have already.   The number of lists seems endless and what you need depends upon the situation, your skills, and your budget.  Here is what is wrong with the DHS kit  I have already mentioned several items above and list some others here but being comprehensive would take a lot of space (read the links and references for more).  Here are some basics.

All types of camping equipment and tools come in handy but can be expensive (shipping can be expensive too so you may want to make your own, try your local yard sales, craigslist, sporting goods or hardware store first).  You may want a small tent to carry and a larger tent to put in the car.  Sleeping pads are as much for insulation as for comfort (learned the hard way‚Äîyou don't want to be in the cold without some insulation between you and the ground).  A hammock can be multipurpose.  You can try your local hardware store for lanterns or Lehman's (they also have candle making supplies).

I suggest four knives for anyone responsible enough to have one (in general you get what you pay for, but start cheap and upgrade later): a folding lock blade knife (buck and gerber are both good reasonably priced brands), a Swiss army knife (with saw blade) or leatherman type knife (pliers are handy), a solid full tang knife, and a machete or short sword for brush.  A kitchen knife can work until you get any of these.  A hatchet would also be useful.  Keep them sharp.

You need several maps (local, state (small scale and large scale), neighboring states, topographic and road) and a compass.  A GPS is optional but very handy.  There are usually welcome centers along interstates and in some cities that hand out free maps.  The USGS is a good source for reasonably priced maps but sometimes it is a bit hard to find what you are looking for.  They have a catalog for each state that really helps. They are also very friendly by phone but still prefer if you order online. 

You should have at least one non portable (plug in) phone that can be used with the power out.  Medicine, diapers and feminine products will be hard to get.  A generator is great but can be expensive and you must have enough fuel (I don't have one but want one).  Solar powered battery chargers are really slow but might be the only option.

Change your attitude, don't be wasteful, and you can reuse many items. A tin can becomes a cup or pot with a little work.  Use both sides of a piece of paper and then use it as insulation or tinder.  Waste not, want not.  This also minimizes trash as there may be no trash pickup.

Organize your equipment and supplies into different levels and packages

Stuff you almost always carry

You should make a small kit that fits in your pocket or around your neck.  This should include:

  • ways to make a fire (matches, mini bic, flint, etc.)
  • a button compass
  • a small knife or razor blade, broken hack saw blade, small file
  • Swiss Tech Micro-Tech 6-in-1 Tool
  • led light
  • small candle (light or fire making)
  • a saw
  • short piece of wire
  • parachute cord (as much as will fit)
  • iodine tablets
  • sturdy needle and thread
  • individual salt servings
  • food tabs, hard candy, bullion or individual parmesan cheese/sugar (if space permits)
  • freezer bags (water)
  • nails (assortment)
  • trash bag if it will fit (poncho or tarp)
  • dental floss (twine)
  • Advil, Imodium, Benadryl, vitamins, band aids, SPF chapstick any other essential medicine for you or your family (all labeled)
  • fish hooks, split shot, fish line, safety pins.
  • Survival cards can go in kit or wallet (you can make something similar). 

Personal Fanny Pack (or vest)

This should be small enough and attached to you so that you do not put it down even when you take a break.  Take it with you on any hike, drive or emergency.  A large fanny pack works well or Ranger Rick suggests putting everything in a vest and a bamboo walking stick.  You can duplicate some of the items in your mini kit but add substantially.

  • Survival cards or pocket survival guide (or print some out).
  • Knife of your choice (another one can go in your pocket or on your belt)
  • Sharpening stone (or ceramic insulator)
  • Fire materials (matches and tender (dryer lint, cotton balls in Vaseline, small candles, etc.) waterproofed)
  • Magnifying glass wrapped in bandana
  • Pliers if your knife doesn't have them
  • Compass
  • Maps
  • Metal cup (boiling water)
  • 2 small bottles of water
  • Freezer bags (organization, waterproofing and for more water)
  • Small camp soap (or traveler's shampoo)
  • Iodine tablets
  • At least 2 trash bags (clear for still and heavy black for shelter), or tarp and poncho, or space blanket, or light weight jacket with hood (a shell that compacts) or hat
  • Rope, twine and wire
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Candle
  • Wipes (these are multipurpose and are more compact than toilet paper, keep them in zip lock bags (add a little water if they get dry))
  • Gloves and socks
  • Small first aide kit (including prescriptions)
  • Sunscreen and bug repellant.
  • Whistle
  • Snacks (powerbars, trail mix, food tabs, tea, Gatorade mix, bullion, beef jerky, MRE)
  • A GPS, FRS radio, am/fm radio, cell phone, or CB can go in here if it fits
  • Mini binoculars (to spot landmarks, approaching fires, etc.)
  • Notepad and pencil or pen
  • A multipurpose tool is a good backup for the other items.

72 hour kit (or less)

To some, the 72 hour kit is everything they have in their house for disasters.  I think this should be what you take with you if you have to evacuate (even on foot).  If you can't carry 72 hours worth of food and water (that is a lot of water even if you only plan 2 quarts per day), scale it down and put the rest in a car bug out kit that can be used in your house or on the road.  You can also make a similar kit for work or other places you are likely to be in an emergency.  It should be in a medium sized backpack that you can easily carry (get a rain cover for the backpack (or make one)‚Äîthese really help in wet conditions).  Again, repeat items in your smaller kits as you see fit.  Here are some suggestions:

  • It's a Disaster! Book (or print out a similar one)
  • Personal mini-kit and fanny pack or vest (attached to you separately from the backpack)
  • Water (as much as you can fit without making the bag too heavy, you can carry some containers empty and fill them later)
  • Changes of clothes (several underwear and socks, long underwear)
  • Jacket, hat, and sunglasses
  • Sleeping bag or blanket (and compact pad), hammock
  • Soap and other toiletries (comb, nail clippers and razor)
  • Small stove and/or lantern (or directions and supplies for making one of the stoves above)
  • Small tent or tarp and netting, plastic sheeting, tent poles and stakes (multipurpose)
  • Stuff sacks, mesh bags, pillow cases for organization
  • Duct tape
  • Hatchet or machete, folding saw
  • Small shovel
  • Rope, twine and bungee cords
  • Backpacking pot/pan
  • Cooking and eating utensils (kitchen knife, can opener, spatula, spoon, forks, plates, cups)
  • Foil
  • Dish soap, sponge, dish pan or bucket (collapsible) (also a wash basin or bucket), towel
  • Food (Snacks and MREs as well as rice)
  • Vitamins
  • Detailed road maps
  • topo maps
  • Extra ammo
  • Pocket warmers
  • A GPS, FRS radio (everyone with a list of channels to use), am/fm radio, solar calculator, or CB (whatever you have that fits)
  • Copies of important documents, phone numbers, extra credit card, cash, ID
  • Comfort items (book, cards, bible, pictures, coloring books, games)

Car Kit

Keep this in the car if possible.  I used to keep a lot of this in my car but since some of it was stolen, I keep most of it in the house and load it up for longer trips.  I have something similar to the personal fanny pack that I keep hidden in the jack compartment.

  • 72 hour kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Jumper cables
  • Seat belt cutter and window breaker (keep within reach)
  • Water (bottles can go under the seats)
  • Matches
  • Gloves
  • Tarps
  • Garbage bags
  • Wipes
  • Maps
  • Driving compass
  • Rope and/or tow strap and bungee cords
  • First aide kit (any medications)
  • Siphon hose for water or gas (do not drink gas)
  • Window washer/scraper
  • Crowbar and other tools (hammer, saw, wrenches, duct tape, fuses, belts, and screws)
  • Ax, bucket and shovel (this is required in some forests)
  • Engine oil
  • Gas can (keep it empty and unused unless you have a place for it on the outside of your car or truck)

Stuff you take if you have to Bug Out

This is stuff that is too heavy to carry in your 72 hour kit but something you can throw in your car (in addition to what is already there) quickly if you need to evacuate.  You might be able to take it in a garden cart if you can't drive but travel by roads is still safe.  Here is an example to help you make your own kit (or here).  Pack it in crates or duffle bags.  Here are some suggestions (what fits in your car will vary):

  • More survival books or books on camping/country/simple living
  • 5 gallon water cans (full)
  • Food (cans and other heavy bulky items)
  • Cooler (grab some ice and any travel friendly fresh items that are still good like cheese, peanut butter, apples, lemons, and bread)
  • Large first aide kit
  • Dutch oven
  • Stove and fuel or barbeque, Kelly Kettle
  • Lantern (Petromax is good but expensive)
  • Unscented bleach
  • Tent and large tarps, rugs
  • Blanket and pillows (sleeping pad, hammock, or cot)
  • Paper plates, utensils and cups
  • Paper towels and wipes
  • Foil
  • Solar shower
  • Bucket toilet (you can store garbage bags, toilet paper, wipes, and soap inside the bucket)
  • Many garbage bags
  • Laundry soap
  • Clothes pins
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Ant traps and insecticides
  • Fishing gear
  • Radio and batteries
  • Several extra fuel cans (enough to get to your destination without refueling)
  • Propane heater with fuel
  • Generator
  • Small safe for guns and documents
  • Bikes (on rack and with pump and tire repair kit)
  • Frisbee or other games

First Aid and Medical Kits

Take a first aide class and more training if you can.  For supplies, the place to start is with a pre-made small portable first aide kit and a larger home or car first aide kit.  These are usually $10 to $20 on sale (but can be $100's if you want).   You can add items from your medicine cabinet and replace things like the cheap scissors that usually come with them. However, these usually are not good for much more than minor cuts and scrapes (going to a hospital/doctor may not be an option or may take a while‚Äîso do your best until you can get to one).  For more serious injuries you probably have to make your own kit.  The best book is Wilderness Medicine, by William W. Forgey.  His suggested kit in the back of the book is great (I learned the hard way I needed some of the items that he recommends and figure the other items are ones I may need in the future).  Amazon and Moore Medical have most of the items if you can't find them locally.  For the house or car first aide kit, I suggest a hard sided box like a tool box.  Dental care is also important.  A toothache is really distracting. A little dental kit like this could make you a lot more comfortable until you can see a dentist.

Other Kits

Make other kits as you see fit.  I have a kit that is mainly in case of terrorist attack (I live and work too close to a likely target).  I have Jane's Chem-Bio Handbook and what to do if a nuclear attack in imminent as well as Potassium Iodide (seven days), plastic sheeting, duct tape, Tyvek clothes coverings,  and a face mask (this is not as good as a gas mask but its what I have).  You can spread this to your other kits if you want.

Protecting yourself from criminals
is as natural as buying a fire extinguisher to put out fires (but more expensive).   Get fences, dead bolts, and lock your windows at night but if someone really wants to get in your home they will.  Police take an average of 11 minutes or more to respond to violent crimes 40 percent of the time (sometimes hours), under normal conditions. A lot can happen in 11 minutes and you are going to wait a lot longer in a crisis.  When someone is kicking in your door, it is too late to go buy a gun.  You are on your own.  Relying on the kindness of someone breaking into your home is not a good bet.

If you are a gun person, pick your own gun.  This advice if for those who don't own a gun or don't shoot.  I suggest a pistol, a rifle and a shotgun for every adult (check you local gun laws).  If I had to only have one gun it would be a shotgun because of their versatility.  A 20 gauge shotgun is more than enough for most purposes including home defense and has less recoil than a 12 gauge.  The Remington 870 is a great choice but many people also like Mossberg.  Take a class on using the shotgun for home defense.  For home defense ammo, I use bird shot.  This will not penetrate and stop a criminal as fast as buck shot but is also less likely to go through a wall and hurt an innocent person.  Make your own decision here based on who is in adjoining rooms and how close the neighbors are.  You can always load bird shot as the first few shells followed by buck shot (keep about 200 rounds on hand because it will be hard to buy in a crisis).  The only options I recommend are hearing protection, glasses, a cleaning kit, a sling (guns with slings don't get set down in bad places as much) and maybe a light or night sights.  I think the factory stocks are fine. 

Next on my list would be a .22.  The Ruger Single Six is a nice revolver that is convertible to either 22 LR or 22 magnum (This might be a better choice as the only gun for some people). Also get a holster for it.  Savage and CZ make bolt action rifles that are great bargains. A .22 is a little small for home defense (it is less likely to stop a criminal in his tracks) but a lot better than nothing.  It is also important to be comfortable with your gun and a .22 is fun to shoot so you are more likely to practice (.22 ammo is very cheap and you can get 1,000 rounds for about $20).  As soon as you are comfortable with the .22 and your budget allows, you should probably upgrade to a larger common caliber (.357 for a revolver, 9mm, .40 or .45 for an automatic pistol, 12 gauge for a shotgun, and .223, .308, 7.62x39, .30-30, or .30-06 for rifles).  Get a concealed weapon permit if your state allows them even if you don't plan on using it (carrying a gun).  Again, these take some time to get so you have to get one before you need it even if you think that will be never.  Also, the required classes are really great and focus mainly on when not to use a gun.  Almost any gun range will offer such a class (and many others that are worth it too).  In general, buying a used gun is fine (simple guns are very durable) but for the guns I recommend here, the premium for a new gun (gun store or some sporting good stores) will probably be less than $100 and probably worth it to avoid any mechanical issues to start with.

Learn the gun safety rules and locking up any guns not on your body is a good idea and a necessity if you have kids (or adults who act like kids) in your home.  For pistols you can get a cheap keyed safe for about $20 (also good for documents).  Then you have to hide the key where you can find it quickly but no one else can.  A combination safe is better but a lot more expensive (practice opening it in the dark).  For long guns you can get a locking cabinet for about $100 (some cases have a good lock and that is a good idea for taking with you in the car), put a lock on a closet, or get a real safe for about $1,000.  Trigger locks are generally a bad idea because you can accidentally pull the trigger when getting them on or off.

If you decide against a gun, at least get pepper spray, a baseball bat, or a flashlight.  A self-defense class would be good too (martial arts classes are good but take a long time to become practical). A bullet proof vest and helmet would be good but neither is inexpensive.  Finally, there is safety in numbers.  Staying with family and friends during a crisis is a good idea if resources and space allow.

First Steps

  1. Buy some unscented bleach and start storing water.
  2. Start accumulating food and other supplies.  Initially, just buy more of the food that you already buy that stores well.  Re-pack as necessary.  Get some food grade buckets or plastic crates and find a cool dark place.
  3. Start reading more about the risks that you face personally and ways to deal with them.  What is your plan to deal with each?
  4. Organize your stuff into personal mini kits, personal fanny packs (or vests), one or more 72 hour kits for each person for each location they spend time, a car kit, a bug out kit, and your house stash.
  5. Practice.  This doesn't have to be a military style exercise.  Try camping and living without power and running water (in your backyard to start with).  Load your car with what you think you would want to take if you had to evacuate.  How long did it take?  Did it all fit?  Try driving back roads to get out of town.  Go hiking with your 72 hour kit. 
  6. Periodically take an inventory and revise your plans.

Books and other sources (in order of relevance and grouped)

Online Resources

SurvivalBlog (the best daily variety of all types of information at a good price too)

Alpha Rubicon (The "Mythbusters" of the survival world. Membership required for most information, great information and more personalities than members)



Some of these are a bit far fetched and depressing (worst case) and mainly about TEOTWAWKI  (sing ‚ÄúIt's The End of The World as We Know It, and I feel fine" ) (they are fiction) but still give some good food for thought.

Author's web site:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Recent comments in SurvivalBlog provided excellent advice on using the public library. You can gain lots of knowledge with no expense, then purchase only those books you want to keep on hand for personal reference. Also, many colleges and universities loan to local residents, so you can use them too, even if you aren't a student.

If your local libraries participate, a great resource is Worldcat. It lets you search for books from home, then go check them out, or get them through interlibrary loan.

What will happen to the Internet when the SHTF? There's no guarantee it will survive. Even if the World Wide Web endures in some form, most of the individual computers connected to it will not. Hopefully by then you will have already downloaded all the free info that's going to help you cope with the new world.

You may want to download a copy of information on this web site or any other web site with useful content. It would be a shame to face some disaster when all the resources of the internet are no longer at your fingertips.

 In preparation for a worst case scenario, it's a good idea to begin now to collect the knowledge that will come in handy later. You can download whole books, save them to jump drives, and keep an entire library in a very small space. All kinds of free manuals, guides, tech tips, and schematics are available on the internet; for everything from firearms to furnaces to computers to appliances.

All of the downloads listed here are in the public domain or allowable for copying. Stay away from sites that may involve copyright infringement. If you use a file-sharing site such as Limewire, Kazaa, or any site that uses bit torrents, you are not only downloading, but also uploading. Your participation involves automatically uploading to other users. If the file is illegal, you are distributing illegal material, not just downloading it. Stay away from these and stick with the legitimate sites listed below.

Keep in mind that some of this information you download might be illegal to use at the present time. You can't practice dentistry on your neighbor just because you have the book. Nevertheless, you have the right to possess this very vital information. After TEOTWAWKI, all bets are off. The information you collect today might save your life or the life of somebody you love.

Many downloads are in Portable Document Format (PDF) form, so to read them you must have a suitable program such as Adobe Reader, which is the free version of Adobe Acrobat. There are alternatives to Adobe that can read PDF files, if you prefer. Some of these files are very large. If your internet connection is slow, it's better to right click and download rather than try to read a huge file online.

Some documents you may want to print out. Others you can just leave on disc. Just be sure to store your drives safely. Not included in this list are the many web sites that are very good resources in themselves. Rather, these are the files you can download for offline viewing at a later time. Download them while you still can!

Project Gutenberg was mentioned as a good place to go for eBooks.

The Smithsonian Institution is another great resource. They have digitized many older books, maps, and documents in their collection.

Wikisource has a nice collection of free eBooks.

One way to search for books no longer in copyright is to use Google Book Search. Check "full view." If it comes up in the search, it can be downloaded as a PDF file.

A good alternative to Google is the Internet Archive which includes books, images, audio, and more. The Internet Archive also hosts the Wayback Machine, which archives copies of an incredible 85 billion pages from the internet of years past.

Over 100,000 free eBooks can be accessed through Digital Book Index

2020ok is a directory of free online books and free eBooks

The British Columbia Digital Library has an impressive Collection, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and most importantly, the Holy Bible. It also has a Guide to other digital libraries.

Scribd is an online document library of free research articles, eBooks, and other content.

A great resource for home schoolers is the Internet's largest directory of free audio & video learning resources maintained by

Check out the postings of Home Schooling On-line Resources on the The Mental Militia Forums, as well as the "Must Have" Books/reference material topic.

More than 3,200 pages related to the U. S. Constitution can be downloaded from The Founders' Constitution

Firearms For any firearm you own or plan to own, you should have a drawing of its Exploded View, which will help identify parts and how they fit together. One of the most comprehensive collections of Exploded Views is the paper edition of the Numrich Arms Catalog, which in itself is a gold mine of information and very inexpensive for a volume of over 1200 pages.

But if you only need certain Exploded Views, there are many places on the internet where you can download them for free:

Gunuts is a good place to start with hundreds of drawings. Another source is The Okie Gunsmith Shop, which is apparently no longer operating, but you can still download drawings and parts lists from its web site.Big Bear Gun Works has another good list. For pre-WWII firearms, check out Gunsworld. For examples of specific firearms manufacturers, see Remington, Browning, and SKB Shotguns

The book, The Defensive Use Of Firearms by Shane C. Henry is available as a download from rec.guns. An enormous amount of additional gun information is available on the rec.guns web site.

There are several good sources for Military Publications: has a huge collection of Military manuals.

Try Integrated Publishing for access to millions of pages of engineering manuals and documents.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command maintains the LOGSA web site for access to thousands of Army technical manuals.

The U.S. Air Force maintains the Air Force e-Publishing web site.

As mentioned recently, The Small Wars Journal has a Reference Library of downloadable military documents.

The Brooke Clarke web site has a good guide to accessing military field manuals

Surviving War and Nuclear Attack For a basic guide, download How To Survive A Chemical Or Biological Attack.

Nuclear War Survival Skills, along with some other very interesting books, can be found on the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine web site. This book includes plans for the Kearny Fallout Radiation Meter (KFM). If you have not bought a radiation meter, you should at least download the book for future reference. You can also get the Free Plans from The Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Nuclear War Survival Skills is also available on the KI4U web site as an online book, but not as a download.

The Equipped To Survive web site has some free ebooks, as well as books for sale: Survival, Evasion, and Recovery and U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76.

The Volunteer Center of Marin County, California has prepared A Guide to Organizing Neighborhoods for Preparedness, Response and Recovery which you can copy from their web site. 

Medical Resources The Disease Net has a library of downloadable manuals on survival, weapons, emergency medicine, and less serious subjects.

Virtual Naval Hospital is a digital library of naval, military, and humanitarian medicine

The very important field manual, First Aid For Soldiers FM 21-11 can be downloaded here.

One of the best medical handbooks available is the U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook ST31-91B. It can be downloaded free (as well as additional essential guides) from Delta Gear, Inc.

A newer version of the Medical Handbook, plus more great material can be downloaded from NH-TEMS (New Hampshire Tactical Emergency medical support).

The American Red Cross has some of their disaster guides online for download. For most of their material, you have to go to the local office. Some of it can be copied from the Earth Changes Media Survival Tips page. 

The Red Cross Book, First Aid in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency book, The Ship Captain's Medical Guide

Hesperian makes available free downloads of its books for medical treatment in primitive conditions. Two highly respected guides it publishes are Where There Is No Doctor and Where There Is No Dentist.

Here is a direct link to the must-have book Survival and Austere Medicine: An introduction. Australian Survivalist Online has several additional Files for downloading.

The Department of Agriculture has a treasure trove of information for free download. This agency maintains The National Agricultural Library, a collection of free information on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, and other related subjects.

Another USDA web site is the Cooperative Extension Service. Click on the map to navigate to various Extension offices around the country. Don't limit your search to just your own state. Many of them have invaluable information on animals, crops, construction, food preparation and much more for free download.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) offers downloads about preventing plant and animal diseases, among other topics.

The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) offers Fact Sheets about food handling and preparation, and emergency preparedness.

Other Important Reference Resources The classic outdoor guides, The 10 Bushcraft Books by Richard Graves are available on the Chris Molloy web site. Free manuals for electronic equipment can be downloaded from Another source is For Ham Radio and Test Equipment Manuals, the KO4BB web site has Free Downloads, as well as LINKS to many other web sites with free downloads. A few examples of repair information for outdoor equipment are Penn Reel Schematics, and Mercury outboard parts.

Paid Services In the unlikely event that you can't find free information on the Net to fix that generator or whatever you need to repair, there are web sites that charge for information. As a last resort, you can check Sam's PHOTOFACT service manuals, or Hopefully, that won't be necessary.

The foregoing just begins to scratch the surface. Some of these free downloads are also available as books or CDs from eBay, Amazon or from some of the survivalist web sites. That is fine. Sometimes it is easier to just pay the money and buy the book. But nobody can afford it all, and downloading gives you access to millions of pages - much more knowledge than you could acquire through any other method.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My wife and I saw I Am Legend last night at the local theatre. The movie house was packed. Almost every seat was filled. Of the most interest was the end. As the movie faded to black and credits rolled, there were more than several spontaneous bursts of applause throughout the audience and a few cheers. Wow! The last movie that I remember ever getting applause was the last "Star Wars" installment. Something really hit deep with many in the audience…

My wife was weird’ed out by the zombies though, as they were quite scary. So viewer beware.

As for the movie, I enjoyed it, albeit the zombies are a far stretch to the imagination, the premise is not! (a viral cancer cure with unintended consequences) The self-sufficient [aspects of] survivalism were pretty close to reality (Honda generators, large stores of supplies), although preparedness was not advocated. He just rounded up (looted) whatever he needed during the day[light hours.] The desperation of loneliness was also driven home well. And although he had a very nice AR-15 rifle (my survivalist choice, although I do own a SA-58 FAL [clone]), his hunting skills sucked: Like chasing deer through the city with a high-performance Mustang, etc. Good action, dumb logic!

Anyway, I thought you would be interested in hearing about the audience response from a liberal college town (University of Virginia at Charlottesville.). Regards, - Rmplstlskn

JWR Replies: Keep that .308 FAL. In my opinion, and as previously discussed at length in SurvivalBlog in most situations it is a much better choice than a .223 AR-15 or an M4gery.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

There has been another outbreak of Ebola in Uganda, that already has killed 25 people. It is funny (in a morbid way), but the "good news" that the specialists gave about this new Ebola strain:
" ...Because of its scanty history, scientists have concluded that the strain is somewhat containable because it kills its victims faster than it can spread to new hosts..."

Sometimes, people around tell to us, survivalists: you are always "over-reacting" to threats that maybe never happen. Well, look at the reason why some medical workers die:
" ...The mysterious strain has so far infected 104 people -- including the 25 dead -- some of them medical workers who treated patients without latex gloves and respirator gowns..."
It is unbelievable: in 2007, medical workers dealing with Ebola without latex gloves and respirators. - "The Werewolf" in Brazil

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hello Jim,
I am very new reader of your blog and am just now starting to go through the archives. Based on what I’ve read so far, I commend you on putting together a useful, fact-intensive blog on “survivalism” (whatever that means), that isn’t geared towards loony, off-the-reservation, tinfoil hat-type readers, who believe that 9/11 was a plot masterminded by Halliburton.

That said, one problem I suspect I will have with your blog is that you consistently seem to be preparing for an extreme, and more-or-less permanent, breakdown of society—or TEOTWAWKI, if you will. In one of your blog posts, you noted that the problem with preparing for TEOTWAWKI, is that “between now and then, you have your life to live.” This statement is particularly true for those of us who don’t live out West, don’t live in rural environments (let alone, gasp, urban east coast cities), have young children, drive a minivan, and enjoy otherwise the soft, latte-sipping lifestyles of Yuppiedom in the second Golden Age of American wealth.

My family and I fall into that category to a great deal. Don’t get me wrong: I e-ticketed most of my courses at Gunsite, so I’m no head-in-the sand sheeple. And I’m a pretty capable empty hand fighter. But I also grew up in the suburbs and didn’t exactly spend my youth learning to trap, fish, hunt, or plant seeds. I am married to a lovely wife who has no interest in learning to run a carbine, and we have a young daughter who prevents us from grabbing bug-out rucks and heading off to the bush for two weeks. In any event, if we ever managed to actually get from our 30th floor apartment in Manhattan to the bush, I’m not sure we’d know what to do.

The point I’m making is that there are a lot of people like us—people who live in cities, who don’t feel in the least bit at home in the outdoors, who aren’t going to learn about land nav or plotting azimuths, who aren’t going to buy a bug-out retreat in the country that is going to lie empty 52 weeks a year, and who are basically screwed if TEOTWAWKI actually and truly arrives.

Barring TEOTWAWKI, it seems to me that we are infinitely more likely to face moderately scary scenarios, like Hurricane Katrina and necessary urban evacuation, some urban 1970s style civil disturbance but nothing like Mogadishu, high-intensity individual criminal acts, a low-order terrorist event nearby and the accompanying panic, or some other situation shy of the worst case scenario.

We urbanites can prepare for those events, while not being entirely distracted from our workaday “ordinary” lives, or dedicating ourselves to trying to get off-the-grid. I certainly have made some attempts to prepare. For example, I have no doubt that we’re in the 99th percentile of Manhattan preparedness by virtue of the fact that we own:

- a well maintained and fueled Honda CRV with GPS, local region street maps, XM radio (for news), an empty 5 gallon gas can, and various vehicle repair tools
- a (legally permitted) pistol and shotgun, and enough ammunition for a firefight and reload under civilian ROEs
- $4,000 in cash
- a week of MREs and water, full rations
- a PVS-14 [night vision] monocular
- soft body armor
- basic camping equipment
- various tools like a good knife, a pry bar, Surefire lights, chemlights, paracord, etc.
- a fully stocked medical kit, 30 days of scrip drugs, and a copy of “Medicine for the Outdoors”
- personal hygiene gear
- a roll of 1mm poly sheeting and a ton of 100 mph tape
- full face respirators and disposable N100 masks
- GMRS radios, shortwave radio, a hand crank radio
- a ton of batteries
- a USB key and a 500 GB backup drive with all our important information
- 1 box of critical paper documents
- clothing suitable for the seasons
- baby stuff

Most of this gear is boxed, labeled, and stored in a single closet that we’ve dedicated to SHTF equipment. The other stuff (car, guns, cash, key documents, etc.) could be policed up in 10 minutes, and is written down on a checklist. If we had to, I reckon we could shelter in place for a week, or we could bug out in an hour (assuming, of course, Manhattan was not totally gridlocked).

I’d be very interested in your thoughts about what urbanites should be doing to prepare for bad times, given the restrictions of space, limited knowledge of/interest in outdoorsman skills, “Yuppie” lifestyle constraints, etc. Thanks. - D.C.

JWR Replies: For someone that lives on Manhattan Island, you are definitely quite well-prepared!

Some preparedness upgrades that I'd recommend for you:

1.) Pre-positioning some supplies stored with friends or relatives, or perhaps in a commercial storage space, at least 150 miles out of the city, on your intended "Get Out of Dodge" route. (For that dreaded "worst case.")

2.) Adding a rifle to your firearms battery. With New York City's semi-auto and magazine restrictions, you might consider a .308 Bolt action with either a small detachable magazine, or perhaps a non-detachable magazine. A Steyr Scout would be a good choice. Some semi-auto rifles that might be approved include top-loading M1 Garands and FN49s. (No doubt easier if you are a member of a CMP-associated shooting club.) If you can't get permit approval for any modern rifles, then there is a handy exemption for long guns "manufactured prior to 1894 and replicas which are not designed to fire fixed ammunition, or for which fixed ammunition is not commercially available." You might consider a pre-1894 production Winchester Model 1876 or 1886 in an obsolete caliber such as .40-60 or .45-90. (See my FAQ on pre-1899 cartridge guns for details. Be sure to select rifles with excellent bores and nice mechanical condition.

3.) A small photovoltaic panel for recharging your flashlights, radios, and night vision gear batteries.(Along with a 300+ Amp Hour 12 VDC "Jump Pack" (such as's item # ZX265545) and 12 VDC "DC to DC" battery charging trays and the various requisite cords.)

4.) A supply of antibiotics.

5.) Consult your local fire code, and store the maximum legally-allowable quantity of extra gasoline, assuming you have a safe place to store it. (I realize that most Manhattanites have their cars stored commercially with no additional storage space, and it can be a 20 minute car-juggling exercise just to get your hands on your car, depending on how "deep" you are parked.) If extra gas will be stored in your vehicle, then be sure to get one or more Explosafe brand fuel cans, and strap them down securely so that they will maintain their integrity in the even of a vehicle collision. You might consider upgrading to a mid-size 4WD SUV (such as an E85-compatible Ford Explorer) and have it fitted with an auxiliary roof rack where you can carry extra gas cans. (Again, I realize that most Manhattan parking garages have height limitations, but do your best.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In deference to Ben, his numbers are a little off.
I have been spending a great deal of time studying everything I can get my hands on about a pandemic flu. (I am the Emergency Preparedness Specialist for my Church) If you go to you'll see that the "experts" expect a morbidity rate (those who will become sick) of 40% of the US population.and a mortality rate that would be about 20%. If you do some quick math:
360 million Americans
144 million Americans sick
28 Million Dead.
One of the reasons that the numbers would not be as inflated as Ben states is that, while H5N1 is killing at a 50% to 70% range, when and if it mutates, the mortality and morbidity rates would be much lower. Any virus that wants to propagate itself needs to keep a higher rate of "Typhoid Mary's" just to survive. If it kills it's host too well it wont be a global threat. Think back to other viral scares. Ebola, although tragic to any who come in contact with it, it kills so well and so fast that it doesn't spread very effectively. Same goes with the SARS scare in the 1990s.
A pandemic flu will be disastrous and possibly the worst thing we have ever experienced. Couple that with an economic downturn, a massive hurricane, earthquake, flood, ice storm, or war, and it may be the kind of "event" that changes the way we look at TEOTWAWKI. Regards, - KM


The 1918 Flu is normally used to project/predict the effects of Avian Influenza because it is the last major flu epidemic for which we have decent records. Apparently, the current virus also seems to share some characteristics with the 1918. With regards to Ben's figures on higher mortality: the fact is we don't know what the mortality rate of adapted Avian Influenza will be. Usually, when a virus makes the jump to easy transmission between humans, it loses some of it's potency. This isn't guaranteed, but it seems to be the general trend, and so the models used to predict Avian Influenza generally follow this reasonable assumption. All the predictions being made are based on history, understanding of mutation mechanisms, and the like--but they are still basically guesses, since we won't really know how the virus will mutate until it does.

I'd suggest doing some Operational Risk Management, balance the potential impact with the reasonable probability, and apply preparation resources accordingly. From my reading on the subject, there is a theoretical "tipping point" in pandemic disease casualties (whether natural or bio-warfare) where society may disintegrate--possibly between 10 and 20 million for the modern US. The projections based on 1918 are below the admittedly "fuzzy" guesstimate of this point, while the worst case (lethality of Avian Influenza remains in the 50% range without affecting its ability to spread) are well above. It's food for thought. Regards, - PSJ

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

With all due respect (to Chris in Utah and the folks cited by Computerworld), "If a pandemic strikes the U.S., it will kill about 1.7 million people" is a fantasy, because it is based upon the 1918-1919 flu's death-rate of 2.5%, and also that the United States' population of the time was around one-third of the present number.

It was said that, in "normal" times, flu killed some 0.25% of those afflicted. In 1918-1919, that figure skyrocketed to 2.5%. Triple the U.S.'s population (in regard to the earlier 20th Century figure), and the post-WW1's death-rate goes to slightly over 2 million. But, as I indicated earlier, that's with the 2.5% rate.

In Indonesia and elsewhere, the death rate [for H5N1] is not even close to 2.5%. It is more like 53% to 60%. I made some further calculations (2.5 x 20, for starters, although that is a rather conservative figure), an came up with the following figure[s], that the death rate, in the U.S. alone (675,000 x 3 x 20), will be more along the lines of 40,500,000 (say a round 40 million, just to keep things tidy.)

Anybody who is of the opinion that a mere 1.7 million--approximately 3 times the 1918-19 rate--will be in their shrouds is living in Fantasyland. That-all is based on percentage that catches the flu, not the entirety of the U.S. population. Regards, - Ben

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I thought you and your readers might be interested in this flu pandemic exercise recently carried out by financial services firms. An article in Computerworld describes the scenario: "If a pandemic strikes the U.S., it will kill about 1.7 million people, hospitalize 9 million, exhaust antiviral medications and reduce basic food supplies...", and, "Among the other things that may happen in an actual pandemic are school closings, as well as blackouts or brownouts in major metro areas because of degraded service as a result of absenteeism. Internet service throughput could be reduced by 50% due to congestion, and Web browsing timeouts would become common. Airlines would cut schedules, and garbage would pile up on streets."

The article's fairly standard mainstream media flu pandemic coverage, the kind I'm sure we've all seen before. What makes this really interesting is that the scenario information used for the exercise has been posted online. It's somewhat focused on the financial sector, but there's a lot of good general information about what might happen when a major flu pandemic strikes. - Chris in Utah

Friday, October 12, 2007

Let's say that you and your family having been taking the advice provided here by Mr. Rawles and are squared away for the Crunch—you've got your bullets, beans, and band-aids, all piled high in a structurally reinforced home out in the middle of nowhere. You've got just about every survivalist book ever printed, plus the tools and skills you'll need to provide for yourself and your family. You also, of course, have the basic life skills that you'll need to simply stay alive—things like shooting, tracking, cooking, and first aid.

Have you thought, however, about the education of your children? Public schools, private schools, and universities will likely close their doors. And even if any remain open, the education they provide would be of questionable value when society is falling apart. Clearly, the most important things for children to know will be the things that survivalist parents have been teaching them for a long time—skills like shooting, cooking, sewing, and first aid—and none of those are taught sufficiently well in the typical school.

But will children really need to learn anything else during the Crunch? After all, what is the value of "book learning" when you're far from civilization, simply trying to survive? Does it really matter who wrote A Tale of Two Cities? Of what importance is learning to tell the difference between it's and its or good and well? And who cares about calculating the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle?

Actually, all of that is important. The three R's (reading, [w]riting, and [a]rithmetic) will always be of value, no matter how bad things get, as will a variety of other subjects. Why? Because in all except the most horrific SHTF scenarios, people move out of their bunkers after several years and again begin to interact with their neighbors, first just to barter, and later to gather socially. Society eventually rebuilds, and as it does so, leaders are needed to fill the gap—people who are able to communicate effectively and think critically about the problems they face. How are such leaders raised? In part, through their education.
We've already established that traditional educational services will almost certainly be non-operational once the Schumer hits the fan, so survivalists must look elsewhere for a solution. Essentially, that solution is some form of homeschooling, because when society isn't functioning, your children will have no one to learn from other than you.

Are you ready for that? Some of you already homeschool your kids—that's great. But regardless of whether you already do or not, you may not be prepared for the day when there are no more easily obtainable textbooks, no more homeschool co-ops, no more video lectures, and no more sources of basic school supplies. Could you, with only the resources that you have now, teach your kids the important things that they need to know for the next three, four, or five years? How about the next ten?

Before going any further, let's clear up some common misconceptions. First, you don't need to be a professional teacher to be a successful homeschooling parent. College degrees in education might make you more capable of teaching a class of thirty students, but you certainly don't need a degree to teach one or two kids at a time. Second, you don't need specialized curriculum or fancy textbooks. Textbooks are a relatively new invention and can be useful in some cases, but they certainly aren't essential if you have a good attitude and the right tools.

So what do you need? Well, you need some general supplies, a few basic tools, and most importantly, books—lots of books.

The essential tools and supplies are for the most part obvious—pencils and paper are a good start, and you can stock up for pennies during back-to-school sales at major retailers. Don't settle for junk, however—you'll be kicking yourself for buying those cheap mechanical pencils when they're all breaking after a month or two of use. The best strategy is to simply buy a mechanical pencil sharpener if you don't already own one, and plenty of boxes of old fashioned yellow pencils, with separate rubber erasers still in their original plastic wrapping. Don't forget the tools you'll need to teach math, either—items like protractors and well-made compasses are essential. Something else you may not have thought of is a slide rule, since calculator screens and batteries are prone to failure. Slide rules last for decades if properly cared for, and have the added benefit of forcing their users to engage their brains. Of course, since you're going to be teaching your kids how to use these tools, make sure you know how to use them yourself.
Next up is books. This is the most important part of your homeschool preparation, simply because the right books are packed with valuable information that's accessible to anyone who is able to read—both the teacher and the student. Furthermore, it's possible to get most books for only a little bit of money—used book stores and library book sales are excellent ways to build a large library on a small budget.
The key reference works that everyone ought to own include a Bible, an exhaustive concordance, and a modern unabridged English dictionary. A complete encyclopedia would also be a valuable resource, and versions printed a few decades ago can be obtained at little cost. Your Bible and concordance should be of the same version, and the version should be both readable and accurate for serious study. Some prefer more literal versions like the New American Standard or the English Standard Version, while others like the grandeur of the King James Version or the readability of the New International Version. Get a version you like and will read, and get the concordance to go with it.

To teach your child to read, depending on age, you'll need a variety of interesting and educational books. Teach phonics and short-sentence reading, and then move on to picture books like the Frog and Toad series (Arnold Lobel) and stories by Dr. Seuss. Eventually, you'll be able to make the move to some of the older Newbery Prize winners, like A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle), Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham) Amos Fortune, and Free Man (Elizabeth Yates). Other excellent children's books include The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), the Little House series (Laura Ingalls Wilder), The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis), The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald), anything by E. B. White, My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George), The Sign of the Beaver (Elizabeth George Speare), Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery) and the Redwall series (Brian Jacques). Pre-teens and teenagers ought to be able to start digesting heavier works—begin with John Bunyan, Mark Twain, and J. R. R. Tolkien, and then move on to Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, and other great authors. Poetry is also excellent reading material—start with the classics by poets like Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Robert Service. You can also read any of these works aloud to younger kids, thereby giving them early exposure to the masters of the written word.

A strong writer is necessarily an accomplished reader, so by providing literature to your children, you are also encouraging the development of their writing skills. Writing can be improved by a lot of practice and by studying examples in literature, but resources like The Elements of Style by Stunk and White (get the 3rd edition—the 4th edition was made more politically correct by a shameless ghost writer) make it much easier. Do not underestimate the importance of the skill of writing—it forms the basis of all effective communication.

Mathematics can be taught without textbooks as well, but depending on your own familiarity with the subject, it may be difficult. Today it's not uncommon to find people who can't make change in their head or balance a checkbook, so if that describes you, make an effort to develop your math skills. You ought to be able to explain concepts like arithmetic (including long division and three digit multiplication), percentages, units of measurement, distance and graphs, and simple logic. A working knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, logarithms, probability, statistics, and calculus would be even better, but some find this difficult to attain. At this level, many will find it necessary to use textbooks, but there's usually no need to have a separate textbook for each grade: entry-level college math textbooks cover a wide variety of topics and older versions are extremely inexpensive when purchased at book sales or online. Get one that has the answers in the back of the book, or one that comes with a solution manual.
As the new society develops, there will be a need for people who understand how government works and who understand the basis of government by the people. Works like Two Treatises of Government (John Locke), The Federalist (Hamilton, Madison, and Jay), and Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville) provide a better understanding of government than any civics textbook ever could, and supplementing these works with opposing viewpoints like those found in The Communist Manifesto (Engels and Marx) can generate healthy discussion.

History can be taught in a variety of ways, but one of the easiest is through biographies. Learning about the lives of people like Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Martin Luther, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, George Washington, Simón Bolívar, Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, George Washington Carver, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others can provide a basic understanding of world history. Historical fiction like that written by G. A. Henty can also be a valuable resource, because it simultaneously engages young readers and teaches history.
You may decide to teach a foreign language, or perhaps a "dead" language such as Latin, Ancient Greek, or New Testament Greek. A dictionary, grammar, and Bible in the language are all you absolutely need, but for foreign languages, a few fiction (especially juvenile fiction) books can make it more fun. It's also extremely helpful to have access to someone who already knows and speaks the language well, so make sure you know the language capabilities of the people in your retreat group.

Science is best taught through experiments, and it's often possible to incorporate science lessons into everyday life. Turn your latest kill into a biology lesson by analyzing all the organs and talking about what each does. Physics is critical for understanding bullet drop, and many chemistry experiments can be performed with supplies found in the survivalist kitchen. The theory behind these sciences can be easily discovered in a low-cost college textbook purchased at a book sale, but beware of physics texts that are calculus-based unless you're prepared to teach that as well.

Despite its reputation among the more practical-minded, art encourages creativity and appreciation for Creation. The easiest way to teach art during the crunch will likely be drawing, because all you need are pencils, paper, and a view of the great outdoors. Drawing also has practical value, because a precise drawing can communicate some information more effectively than the written word. Other forms of art, such as painting and music, require more supplies and equipment, making them more expensive and harder to continue once re-supply is impossible.

There are other subjects that you may wish to teach, such as geography, astronomy, or economics. My advice is the same for these topics—find excellent practical books on each, and let them guide how you teach. Some kids enjoy learning directly from books, but others will prefer a more hands-on approach. Use some creativity to provide the learning experience that best matches your child's style, and remember that all the information you need is hidden in the pages of the books in your library.

In addition to purchasing all these books and supplies, you should to get the experience of teaching your kids now, before you need to do it. Just like it's foolish to build an arsenal of firearms but skip weapons training, it isn't easy to suddenly turn into a good teacher for your kids. Taking the time now to homeschool will help you get ready for when it's necessary, and besides, both you and your kids will likely benefit from the additional time together. If you can't homeschool full-time due to time or financial constraints, do you best to practice teaching in your spare time, by reading to your kids and doing fun experiments in the basement. Do whatever you can, both in terms of skill development and resource acquisition, because you owe it to your children to start preparing for the day when other options are no longer available and their education rests entirely in your hands.

JWR Adds: Even SurvivalBlog readers that currently send their children to private school should plan ahead for circumstances that might necessitate home schooling. This could be because of self-quarantine during a pandemic, a natural disaster that disrupts transportation and public school schedules, TEOTWAWKI, or even just the loss of income because of a layoff. Regardless, you should plan ahead, and start stocking up on home schooling curriculum!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dear Editor:

The [BBC/Discovery Channel] documentary [mentioned yesterday in SurvivalBlog] on Avian Flu can be viewed via Google video.
Scary stuff. - Martin

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hi Jim,
Last night I watched a superb two hour documentary on one of the science [cable television] channels about the coming avian flu pandemic. It was a co-production of the Discovery Channel and the BBC, so I'm sure everyone with cable television will have a chance to see it.

The documentary weaved between the predictions and projections of top epidemiologists, and a fictionalized account of the breakout in Cambodia, and its spread worldwide. The 1918 Spanish Flue pandemic was also used as a major point of comparison. All of the experts on the show said it is not a question of if, but when the bird flu pandemic explodes. They expect a 10% mortality rate minimum among the infected, with our health system totally overwhelmed. The antiviral medicine Tamiflu won't prevent but will only slightly delay the pandemic, because it has no carry over effect. That is, as soon as Tamiflu stocks run out, the pandemic carries on at full speed. They expect the pandemic to launch worldwide within a month of the H5N["X"] virus making one or two minor mutations to allow rapid human to human transmission. The new pandemic will spread much more rapidly than the 1918 [influenza] virus, because of the speed of jet travel. From the first bird flu first case in the USA to every city and town in pandemic crisis will take 90 days, according to their projections. In sum, it may take only four months from virus mutation to completely blanketing every town in the USA. Schools will be shut down, and at least 40% of workers will be off of the job, causing severe economic fallout.

They even showed and interviewed a suburban couple who are concerned enough to lay in "preps" for four months at home, including a generator, fuel, a water well etc. For once, they were not portrayed as "survivalist kooks" but more in the light of, "everyone should be making a plan like this." A main point of the show is that ordinary people just cannot grasp the speed with which this pandemic is expected to breakout and travel worldwide, or the fact that there is no medical solution to the problem. It will have to burn itself out, with many tens of millions dying. The purpose of the documentary was given as causing people to ponder and discuss the issue and begin to make their own preparations. Once the mutation and breakout happens, events will proceed much too rapidly to make decent preparations at the national, local or even family level.

I would highly recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers keep and eye out for this documentary and watch it very carefully. - Matt Bracken

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I am currently working on the construction of a pandemic flu vaccine facility (way too far away from my intended retreat locale, but I need to be able to afford my retreat :-) and I have a couple insights that most people and some medical folks might not have.
First, the new cell culture flu vaccine facilities will have the ability to adapt to mutating strains during production - within reason, and in-process flu vaccine production can either be stopped, or the pandemic vaccine added to the regular vaccine. That is something that is not possible with even the normal flu vaccines when they are made today from eggs ... unless they can magically pull 300,000,000 to 6 billion eggs from the grocery store shelves at moments notice. A couple years back there was a big stink about the flu companies and the CDC 'guessing' the wrong strain; the cell culture facilities should be able to switch relatively quickly to a new vaccine for a new strain. But, it will still take months from identification to the first mass-produced vial of vaccine to be available (its a relatively straight forward process to anyone who understands biopharm, but it just takes time to go through all the steps).
Second, it takes a while to build a vaccine facility. With a 3-5 year mutation rate, and the world currently being at stage 3 of the 6 stages of the standard progression of a pandemic (per World Health Organization (WHO)), it really is a race at this point. If the new ones aren't online, regular facilities could be probably be used if the timing is just right for identification prior to production of normal flu batches. Even a pandemic flu vaccine that doesn't completely match a further mutated pandemic strain may have enough antigens present to provide a touch of resistance to give more people a better chance. Or at least be a nice placebo so the people in charge can keep a little bit of calm by injecting sheeple with some worthless vaccine until a "booster" shot can be developed a few months later. If someone jabs something into your arm, accept it and thank them, but definitely don't drop your guard: keep your masks on and keep friction washing those hands (i.e., don't rely on 'hand sanitizers)!!! People still get the flu after vaccinations today, and I can't imagine that changing with a pandemic strain.
Third, all the normal flu precautions still apply as other writers have said previously: washing hands, face masks, etc. One thing that I can say that might air in your readers home preparations: The thermal lethality of the flu virus (at least H5N1) is about the same as standard flu. It starts to "die" at about 60 degrees C ... so the simple boiling of contaminated sheets/towels/etc. for 5 minutes will pretty much inactivate of the virus (us biopharm folks go 'a bit' further than this in our equipment preps, but even we recognize the absurdity of what we do).
For survival purposes, a good autoclave to have sitting around the house is a 20-quart or greater, 15-pound pressure cooker/canner). Buy a cheaper aluminum one since it typically won't come in direct contact with food. When bacteria or viruses are a concern (botulism, staph, or anything but a couple laboratory created freaks tougher than /thermopolis/), 20 minutes under 15 pound steam (atmospheric pressure + 15 pounds) will kill everything present (molds, bacteria, virii, protozoas, lice, mutant zombie gophers) whether its surgical equipment, needles, thread for sutures, or anything that you really want to sterilize. Some pressure cookers are multi-select (5, 10, or 15 pounds), but they all typically operate at 15 pounds. Plus, a good canner/pressure cooker is still required to store away next winters' food supply.
When sterility (i.e., absolute of death of all things creepy) is required, boiling is not sufficient. On television , you see people boiling a pocket knife before they cut out a bullet, um, no. Twenty minutes in a pressure cooker is the equivalent of something like a day or two of boiling at 100C to obtain the same 'sterility' (I have all the equations, but I'm not motivated enough to do the absurd calculation); and if you're at high altitude, now you're looking at sub-100 temperatures when boiling. People can boil 'living water' and make it safe enough for drinking, because the simple reduction in number of bugs is typically sufficient to allow your immune system to stop the threat, or to keep the populations low enough so they are passed through your system before toxin levels grow to dangerous or even perceived levels. Most water filters (per FDA requirements) only need to hit 99.9x% reductions in various organisms which is perfectly fine for drinking and eating. But for field surgeries, go for full sterility.
Buy a smaller stainless steel pressure cooker for anything that comes in direct contact with the food you actually intend to eat (such as that roast from the 12 year old breeding bull that you finally had to butcher). I believe in the evil of too much aluminum in one's diet; regardless of what the aluminum industry and the politicians who receive campaign contributions from the aluminum products producers tell us.
Of course, my overall confidence: I have full set of duplicate survival gear/supplies stowed away in a storage facility a couple miles from my work site on the other side of the country. And I believe that its going to be a long walk home someday. I hope The Great Maker protects us all . - NotDave

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I am a regular reader with 40+ yrs of prepping and a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. My current career is as a Hospital Staff Respiratory Therapist.
We recently had a seminar on the coming Avian Flu Pandemic that scared the heck out of me. The timeline for human to human vector is 3 to 5 years, if it follows the current rate of mutation. It will probably come out of Thailand, and with air travel, will quickly spread around the world, with entry to the US through the major international airports. With luck and area quarantines, they may be able to limit the spread.
When it hits, they expect a desertion rate of at least 30% of all services: Health Care workers, Police and Fire, even National Guard.
CDC, FEMA and individual hospitals are stocking up on supplies in anticipation of a mortality rate of 10% to 20% of infected cases. Hospitals may become armed camps to control the panic. Basic hospital services will become limited and rationed, no elective surgery, etc.
Hand washing, use of a particle mask and eye shields will be your best defense.

And that's the good news

The world and even the USA is not prepared for such an event. It may take 3 to 6 months to develop a specific vaccine for the flu mutation, and the flu may mutate even more.
We do not have the capacity to handle the death rate. Figure bodies stored in Refrigerated Trucks, mass graves, or cremation.
We do not have the hospital beds to handle a Pandemic. We may have to go to a ward set-up again.
If you bring in a family member, you may be drafted to help provide basic care, and you may be the best way to have good care for that person. The professional staff will be overworked.

The main killer for the Avian Flu is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS requires intubation and use of a ventilator for survival. We do not have enough ventilators, and we are being inventive and are thinking outside the box for this one. We may have to "gang" patients on Ventilators, or recruit people to hand squeeze AMBU bags to keep people alive.
We may have to "Triage" patients and use the available resources to try to save the salvable. Factors such as chronic illnesses, morbid obesity, or even advanced age may resign patients to the "sink or swim" ward. We staff may have to do this to our own friends or family.

Contrary to my own survival instincts, I intend to be on the job when it hits. They tell us that the staff may take double the percent casualty rate of the general populace. I will keep you updated to any useful information that comes my way. - Sput

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here is the first round of responses to this question: Those who are well educated enough to see a societal collapse of some sort or another in the making fall into two groups, the merrymakers and the preparers. The merrymakers don't see life worth living post-SHTF, so they live it up now. We on SurvivalBlog are the preparers and have chosen to survive, but why? Our children? To rebuild civilization? Because the collapse will only be temporary? Because we can and we're stubborn with a stronger than normal will to survive? The following is just the first batch of responses. I plan to post at least one more batch. Please send your responses (one paragraph or less) via e-mail, and I will post them anonymously.

The survivalist is an optimist -- not merely because he/she thinks he'll make it through the crisis, but because of the (possibly subconscious) hope that something good will emerge in the aftermath. It's the logic of any kind of apocalyptic thought... Theological systems that have a conception of a climactic struggle or an "end times" imagine that, after Armageddon, we'll see the dawning of a new age. Not surprisingly, a lot of Hollywood movies follow this script, too: After the aliens are defeated, for example, in "Independence Day", mankind stands united, having put aside their differences; After catastrophic weather changes in "The Day After Tomorrow," the planet begins to heal itself, etc. Heck, this theme can be seen, too, in your fine book, "Patriots". In the same way, I plan to live not only because I'm stubborn and have a finely-tuned sense of justice -- and thus hate the idea of turning over the planet to looters, thugs, and others who would prey on the innocent -- but also because I'm both curious and hopeful about what will emerge as society reconstitutes itself.

My modest preparation springs from the knowledge that I and the Lord are the protectors of my family (there are five of us). Our ultimate trust is in Him, but it is on me to do what I reasonably can do to protect my family from in the event of hardship and/or disaster. (After watching [Hurricane] Katrina, it seems apparent that the government cannot do that.) Anyone reading your web site thinks that there is at least a fathomable chance that our nation's run of blessing/luck will end (or be suspended) at some point in the future. Nothing lasts forever. If and when that time comes, I would never forgive myself if my family suffered unnecessarily because I did not take reasonable steps to prepare for such a time. In addition to that, it's just plain fun to learn about this stuff. (Anyone who says otherwise is lying!)

Because the alternative is inconceivable to me!

I’m currently going through some things in my life that are agonizing (but subject to change) and make things feel almost hopeless for me at times, yet every day I wake up again and thank God that he breathed the breath of life into me. I won’t waste that breath. I’m motivated to prepare to survive and overcome by many factors. Here are some examples:

I’m a 7th generation descendant of a settler in my current state and I’m motivated to survive by the risks my settler ancestors took, the struggles they went through, the multiple battles they fought in, the children they lost prematurely and the price they paid to be here. I recently visited some of their graves for the first time. I see it as my responsibility, honor and duty to live freely and survive. The stock I am from is cut out for it.

I prepare to survive because I’m ultra conservative, at times feeling like an endangered species or “minority” and I’m tenaciously defiant to those who would like to see my “kind” exterminated. I am equipped with a few trusted friends that are peers in regard my views (though mostly surrounded by sheeple) and have inspired some to begin to prepare. I discern a negative spiritual force is taking action to see my country’s sovereignty given away. I am motivated to be a hindrance to that spirit. My country is worth saving.

I prepare to survive because as a young man I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, despite the fact that there have been some truly sorry individuals working to undermine that Constitution since before I was born. I intend to see my oath fulfilled.

I prepare to survive because I read "Patriots", awoke to how fragile our economy really is and saw how foolishly I’d been behaving in the past (assuming life would always be normal) and am in the process of repenting of any residual foolish, sheeple-like attitudes and habits I have.

I prepare to survive because I’ve been in a city where gasoline was temporarily not available and walked through the local grocery store at 3:00 AM (less crowded) and have seen the store shelves stripped of food for a short period of time. It’s pretty convincing you need to prepare when the fuel in the tank of your vehicle and few 5 gallon cans (at the time) may be all you’ll have for a while.

I prepare to survive because if things ever Schumerize I have multiple skill sets that can help a number of people in a number of survival situations. I believe I was created to help people, when possible. I gather info, educate, discuss and leave food for thought for those who are unprepared, but willing to listen and consider my views on the subject.

Why an I preparing? For the simple reason that I live in the middle of the midwest. Bad winters, heavy snow, and ice storms. The rest of the year heavy rain , floods, tornados, et cetera. You can't depend on the government to come through when needed, so if you don't have what you need than you are SOL! You have to be able to get by on what you have or fabricate something to do the job needed. I haven't depended on the government to help and I really don't think they have the capacity any more if ever. It will be your self and friends and neighbors pulling together that will make the difference. I prepare for me and mine so that we may be able to help others if need be. I've traveled extensively in South America, off the beaten path, and if you don't have what you need or can fabricate it than you should not be there. The same goes for having all your ducks lined up at home.

I'm a Jesuit educated 38 year old Bachelor, Eagle Scout, USMC Gulf War Vet, working for a major aerospace company in Seattle. The reason I'm preparing is I inherited ~$500K from my grandfather, who sold the family farm in California to housing developers. He worked hard for all of us and I don't want that blessing of wealth to be squandered. I'm preparing because being prepared is what's been beat into my head since I was a kid. You can't play the "victim" card on the Four Horsemen.

Why do I prepare? Probably because I read too much science fiction as a child! Probably because surviving is so much more interesting than succumbing. Born in the late 1950s, I remember bomb shelter salesmen and diving under my desk during A-bomb drills. I always assumed something, a war, or a pandemic, could change life as I knew it. It never occurred to me not to want to survive. Both my parents were alive during the depression, and that contributed to not taking food/housing for granted. Perhaps my uncle, who survived Bataan, or my aunt, who was a prisoner of war in the Philippines, might also have had something to do with my mindset?

Because I believe that life is worth living, and I have no intention of simply "biting the dust" unless I give it the old college try. I believe that trying and ultimately failing is far better than not trying at all.

Bottom line: I owe it to my family to be prepared. I could not bear to look into their eyes as they look to me for help and have to say "Sorry."

I am a preparer. Not because I'm smarter than anyone else, but because from what I see, there just is no other choice. I do it for my family; my beloved husband who humors me but thinks I'm slightly nuts, my grown children who love me but roll their eyes whenever I speak about what is happening around us. look, I don't have any college degree or any fancy smarts, no one would call me well educated. But I can see what I can see. I read, study, research and from my angle, we are gonna be toast and I bet my surly one eyed cat that it will be ugly. so I plod along doing the best I can when can. I don't have a retreat, I don't have a bunker or fallout shelter, I don't have 10 acres or two years worth of food. But I've got God. I keep plodding on doing the best with what I have and I know He takes care of the rest.Will we survive the whatever that comes? Heck if I know. But I'm a fool if I do not give it my best shot.

As a man of firm Christian beliefs, I believe all our days are numbered and have value. In those number of days we are to protect and provide for our our own selves, our families and so on. Examples in scripture are numerous how people were commanded to defend their homes, their cities, their neighbors, and their land. Unless we (like some were) are destined to go into Babylonian captivity I see no other proper choice.

I am taking what steps I feel necessary to survive in a societal collapse of infrastructure because I realize that the more intricate a system of living becomes, the more possible facets of failure are therefore created. As the machine known as Society grows in scale and complexity, so do the required aspects of its function; increasing the number of things that can go wrong, thus eventually causing a critical failure of the system. With the statistical (and historical) inevitability staring one in the face, how can someone not do everything within your power to be prepared?

I feel its my duty to four fathers, kids, grand kids, friends, although they are getting harder to find these days, an it just feels like the right thing to do,also its interesting,fun, a great learning expense,i spend hours on your site an i want to really thank you for it. I'm sure you make money off of it an you should, but I'll bet you are the type of person that really believe in what you do. I love my guns an have about 25 [of them], I try to go to the range at least three times a week, its the most relaxing time in my life ,by myself or with someone, I'm sure a lot of people don't understand, I love the military weapons a lot, I have .303s, Mausers, and others. I'm proud of my beliefs, thanks.

I consider preparing my Christian duty. I'm also stocking up lots of extra food, clothing, and so forth for charity, which is also my Christian duty.

Myself, I am what would be called a "millennialist" based on my beliefs from the Bible. The majority of mankind is stupid and sinful. Thousands of years and we are still doing the same mistakes over and over. I do not believe in any Gene Roddenberry vision where mankind, by its own efforts, rises from the ashes and evolves into a benevolent a Star Trek society. Nothing sort of divine intervention will save us in the long run from permanent self-destruction----Now aren't I a cheerful one to invite to a social gathering?;)

Just for the record, I'm not one of those nuts that believe in trying to hasten or encourage the Second coming The world is dong a fine job all by itself.

While I had read about survivalism and planning for a couple of years, the importance of having some sort of plan didn't hit me hard until I was living in the South, had a new baby, and [Hurricane] Katrina hit. All of a sudden the importance of having an evacuation plan, supplies, and a known destination to retreat to were very important. I am not as prepared as many of the readers, but I know where to go and what I'll do when I get there. Also, thanks to some great books on small farming and some great advice on here I know how to avoid some real pitfalls.

I’m preparing to survive for my wife and my children, because I can and because it gives me a feeling of confidence. I say “because I can” since most of my acquaintances don’t have a clue of the probable upcoming changes in society, but of those that do have a clue they can’t prepare for survival. They can’t prepare for survival because they’re financially tapped out by having been brainwashed into living on credit today figuring somebody else will take care of them tomorrow, but it won’t be me.

And it drives me nuts. A 45 year old single female friend of my wife owns a boat, owns a camper, had two vehicles, bought a scooter and recently bought a house within the last two years. When I first started preparing for survival, my wife made a comment to her about it and her friend said when the SHTF “we’ll all be as snug as a bug in a rug.” I said“What do you mean we? I think you need to make your own preparations.”

I used to try and educate our acquaintances but have started taking more of an inquiring approach with regards to what they think are the possible upcoming changes in society. A couple we know refinanced their house to buy a travel trailer but they only camp within 45 minutes of their house because they can’t afford the gas and their tow vehicle is not reliable. I asked the husband what he thought was coming in the future, he said he figured things were going to get pretty bad. But then they just put down a deposit on a trip to Hawaii so I’ve got to figure you just can’t help people like this.

And it’s not that I wouldn’t help anybody, I saw value in a comment on your web site with regards to helping neighbors and I will. (Is it okay if I only help the ones I like?). We live in a conventional neighborhood and I wish we didn’t but at this point it would take too much of our resources to move to a property with more land. So our best defense is to bond with the good neighbors but I don’t want all our irresponsible acquaintances coming to live with us.

We have a good life and are lucky to be able to make preparations for what may come. And I am thankful for every additional day I have to get better prepared.

I am preparing to survive because I believe the threats to our way of life are manifold. We are in a global war. China strength's grows, our borders are not protected. Our government is shredding the constitution. Natural disasters, environmental concerns, the basic depravity and selfishness of man--its reason enough. I was a volunteer during [Hurricane] Katrina. Not one person who had preps, was sorry. Many other equivalent societies in this century have fallen, why is America better ? It is inevitable, one disaster will prove the wisdom of preparing.

1. Life is worth living.
2. I want to be around if there is any defending of this nation to be done.
3. Who said one can’t prepare and merrymake? (I guess it depends on one’s interpretation of ‘merrymake’).

It's something that was raised in me. Whether it was the Boy Scout's motto of always being prepared, or just the human instinct of survival, if I see something on the horizon, I won't back down. Not to mention I get to justify spending a lot of money on camping gear and guns, my two favorite hobbies.

We are trying to prepare because it is the right and responsible thing to do for our family, friends, neighbors, and country. If we all became part of the solution, then there would be no problem.

Jim, I grew up in the bomb shelter/Cold War era. A neighbor two houses down actually dug out their front yard to install a bomb shelter. My folks had a rudimentary bug-out bag and we always kept a month's worth of food on hand. Hey, for the 1950s, that was progressive thinking so I guess I come by being into preparedness naturally.

I hold advanced degrees but my education does not get in the way of exercising common sense. It is obvious that our complex society is too interdependent to survive major interruptions and we have numerous examples to look at (the L.A. riots, Hurricane Katrina, and such). To believe that a major interruption of services could not occur is delusional. The empirical evidence is right in front of us. The family which is prepared has far fewer worries.

Do I believe we are headed for TEOTWAWKI? Not particularly. Do I believe that we will see significant disruptions that will affect us for 10 days or so? Yes, definitely. Disruptions lasting to 30 days or beyond? Less likely, but I maintain a "year's supply" nonetheless. Also, my Church has preached being prepared for years. Our leaders have constantly cajoled us to have a year's supply of food and other necessities and my guess is they know something we haven't heard yet.

Most pundits state that human beings are constantly evolving. The point they have ignored or can't see is that the evolvement of the human race in the last 50 years has been a deterioration, not an advancement. We survivalists are, quite frankly, throwbacks to the pure genotype that got us to this point in time.

I prepare because the end is nigh (at least TEOTWAWKI), and there will be a lot of merry-makers who suddenly changed their minds, post-collapse. If you're prepared and you decide the going is too rough, you can always quit,but if you're not prepared, your options are zero. You're done. Besides, my family is Finnish, and we're stubborn SOBs. You can always tell a Finn, just not much...

I prepare to survive because I see it as part of the natural cycle of human civilization. Something in us wants to forget the lessons of what makes us a great society and start living on borrowed riches and capabilities. Eventually, that living beyond our means catches up with us via a natural disaster, economic collapse or societal conflict.

If we were not to prepare to survive then we are doomed to fail and live miserably under the dictates of someone else. If we prepare we are not guaranteed to have prepared for the right situation, or enough, but at least we have a much better than average chance. In the end, I am an optimist. No matter how bad things get they will eventually get better. We can speed up our own recovery and that of our community’s by preparing now. If we do not, then we may end up wallowing in misery and struggling for the barest necessities. Is that the kind of life God wants for us? I think not. I believe God wants us to live wisely and prepare to prosper under all conditions. That takes discipline and short-term sacrifice.

Jim, your blog rocks. I only hope that I can learn and earn fast enough to take advantage of the incredible information that your forum provides before TEOTWAWKI.

I have a beautiful 6 month old son who is totally innocent to the ways in which TPTB (the powers that be) are systematically destroying nature, American Democratic principles and threatening the survival of humanity. He deserves a chance in this life, regardless of whether or not he'll ever get to visit Sam's Club, get a college scholarship, drive a V-8 or own an iPod.

When things start to get dicey, and as the world as we know it begins to fall apart - most likely permanently- he will be just coming up in age and entering what should be the most wondrous years of a child's life.

For him, and for my future children, I will fill their youthful imaginations with nature, tools, projects, outdoor adventure and practical knowledge. Before I let the idiot-box and America's media-driven junk-culture destroy their understanding of their place in God's kingdom (and the animal kingdom), they will know what to eat and how to hunt it, how to garden, how to fix stuff and how to avoid trouble in a society that in the future will eventually fail entirely by trying to eliminate all risk of failure here in the present.

They will be encouraged to learn practical trades: veterinary sciences, engineering, construction, medicine and alternative medicine, martial arts, food production and off-the-grid technology solutions.

No bankers, real-estate agents, financial analysts, politicians or computer graphic designers in this family, Jim. No sireeee bubba.

I have always believed that those people who want to throw God's gift of life away through risk, recklessness, attempted suicide or plain old bad lifestyle habits are doomed to live longer.

I have also questioned since1987 when the U.S.S. Stark got hit by our"allies" escorting black gold in the Persian Gulf how long our cheeseburger-driven, cheap-oil, fiat-money, fake-friends and fear of loss-driven society can keep going.

Therefore I will survive this impending paradigm-shift in human existence in order to see my children prevail into adulthood, and for my morbid curiosity to see how all this B.S. I have put up with my entire life winds-up in the end of my days.

It won't be easy however. Here in Texas, not 1 in 1000 people has a clue what might be coming in the next few years. Even after [Hurricane] Katrina pushed a not-so-golden horde of 150,000 low income welfare dependents onto the greater Houston area. I guess that bad stuff only happens to others, right?

I'll be heading for the hills soon enough I hope, and taking my brood to a more austere, self-sufficient and remote lifestyle before Sugar Land Texas becomes a looter's paradise.

At first I prepared because it was an American act of self-reliance. Now, after all the weird looks and puzzled expressions, I get to have the biggest 'I told you so' in my lifetime.

Great question. Do I have an answer? Yeah a couple. Peace of mind in these troubled times is the main one. We buy insurance for everything except peace of mind. Our power goes off we start our transition to alternatives without a worry. Lights, power,shelter, water, communication ability goes on. Food is here to be eaten fuel to use without need to purchase, cash on hand no worries. Another reason we do what we do is because "I" feel it's my responsibility to my family. Part of my responsibility as a husband and a father is prepare to take care of them no matter what happens next I can't sleep knowing I could have, but I didn't. It's a philosophy of maintaining the status quo to then have the time and resources to help others. It's about being "ahead of the game." It's about life and meeting it's changes head on, never stopping head down and moving constantly on forward to whatever it is that is next in life.

My reason is: why give up? I have fought to hard in this life to just roll over and die.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There are two types of survivalist ["Schumer Hits the Fan"] (SHTF) shopping. Pre-SHTF, and Imminent-SHTF. Let's look at both of them .

These are things you buy now while there is no immediate threat and no mobs of desperate people trying to get the same thing. People who know you think you are eccentric but mostly harmless. The readers of this site already know what kinds of items to store in advance (food, guns, ammunition, etc.) and so it will not be repeated here. Conceptually, these items should have long term storability, and in terms of food be used in a rotating manner so that they are used before they reach the end of their shelf lives. IMHO, a good way to get a resistant female significant other to get on board is to tell her to pick out a case of her favorite chocolate bars and tampons/pads for your pre-SHTF stash.

Imminent SHTF
If you haven't done your Pre-SHTF shopping, shame on you. The best you can hope for is to get there first. Put on a rucksack and while everyone else is in shock, you call your group/wife/friends and get to the COSTCO or wherever. You will be competing with others for items.
If you have already done your Pre-SHTF shopping, then items that you by during an imminent SHTF could include:

1- More of what you already have
2- Items that you don't store in large amounts because they have shorter expiration dates such as fats, oils, meats, batteries and fuel. [JWR Adds: Don't forget chemical light sticks.]
3- Items that you haven't already bought because they are expensive and need the money more than the item during normal times (i.e. more/better guns)
4- Items that you haven't bought already because in addition to their price and expiration dates, you cannot use them under normal circumstances, such as antibiotics.
5- Items that require maintenance that you don't want to deal with pre-SHTF (i.e. guard dog, male and female rabbits and chicks (for raising meat) and the food and housing that they will require.

Here is where your preparation pays off. You zig while everyone else zags. You don't want to be in a throng of hungry and frightened people scrabbling for what's left on the [supermarket] shelves. Since you already have done your Pre-SHTF shopping, you are in no immediate need of anything. Instead, think of what else you might want to get and buy it while others are ransacking the shelves of the local grocery store for canned tuna, rice, bottled water and D-cell batteries. You've got your shopping list and you call your team and assign items to purchase.

Consider the nature of the SHTF. Stay away from the crowds. If a violent riot is a mile away, don't go to the gun store to get another shotgun. Everyone else is going there. You already have your guns and ammo right? Go to the hardware store and get razor wire (or barbed wire), 2x4's, nails, fire extinguishers and smoke inhalation masks/hoods. If the banks are shutting down, don't go and wait on line there. Instead, go to the ATMs and local check cashing place. Think out of the box or get buried in one.

You want to be ahead of the learning curve of the masses. You can be by virtue of three things.

1 - You've already taken care of the necessities so you can avoid the crowds.
2 - You aren't going into shock since you already saw this coming.
3 - You don't have to think about what you're going to need. You've already thought about it, made your list, and know exactly where to get it.

Special note: Depending on the nature of the SHTF, you may need to pay with cash. If the grid is going to go down, don't expect stores to take your word for it that your checks and credit cards are good, and it's too early to pay with gold or silver unless the shop owner is present and it's a mom and pop store. As such, if you don't have a chunk of cash buried in the yard, the very first thing you (or a member of your team/family) may need to do is to go to the bank and ATMs and get some cash out while you can.

FWIW, here's my current personal Imminent SHTF Shopping List.
Rent a 20' moving truck
I want more than I can carry in my car.
Withdraw cash at banks and ATMs and empty the safe deposit box of any valuables before the banks close down.
Gas cans
Mountain bikes
Dirt bike/Motorcycle

Food and Water
Fats and Oils
Meats and proteins

Antibiotics -prescription*
Painkillers -prescription*

*You should carry prescriptions for any drugs you may want to get in your wallet at all times. Do you want to have to go home and look through your files when the balloon goes up and time is of the essence?
More ammunition - can you ever have enough?
Rifles and shotguns - see above.
Camping gear
Extra shoes
Water filters

Livestock-Pet store
Baby chicks and baby rabbits, both sexes.
Their food, water and housing needs

Have this thought out ahead of time. Have copies or your list, delegate tasks to those in your circle and move fast while everyone else is glued to the television set waiting for the government to tell them what to do. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Adds: Deciding whether or not to venture away from your home or retreat when disruption looks imminent should not be a taken lightly. Risks will likely outweigh the benefits if it means "fighting the crowds" at the stores. (Literally.) Nor do you want riffraff seeing your vehicle heaped with new purchases and then following you home. Ditto for nosey neighbors.

In my writings, I have always stressed that we should "Be part of the solution, and not part of the problem." I consider that the litmus test for determining the right course of action in any disaster. By logical extension, that mindset pushes us in the direction of dispensing charity and assisting civil authorities in restoring law and order. By stocking up well in advance you will be one less person that rushes to the supermarket just after the SHTF.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

When I give lectures or do radio interviews, I'm often asked for proof when I mention that we live in a "fragile society." Here is one prime example: kanban. The kanban or "just in time" inventory system was developed in Japan, and became popular in America starting in the 1970s. It is now ubiquitous in nearly every industry. The concept is simple: Through close coordination with subcontractors and piece part suppliers, a manufacturer can keep its parts inventory small. (Kanban is a key element of "lean manufacturing.") They only order batches of parts as needed ("just in time"), sometimes ordering as frequently as twice a week. Companies now hire Six Sigma consultants and Kaizen gurus, they buy sophisticated data processing systems, and they hire extra purchasing administrators. But these expenses actually save them money at the bottom line. I have a close friend, "B.A.", that has worked as a lean process consultant, and he chimed in on a draft of this article that I sent him last weekend. (See his interspersed notes.) "Just in time" inventory systems have several advantages: Less warehouse space, less capital tied up in parts inventory, and less risk of parts obsolescence.

B.A. Adds: Actually, in many cases, if the simplest [lean process] methods are revealed through asking the "5 Whys" and understanding optimum flow, the sophistication (including data processing systems) can often be greatly reduced or eliminated; I think the perception is that complexity is better is often a sales job from folks selling the hardware and software!

The downside is that lean inventories leave companies vulnerable to any disruption of supply. If transportation gets snarled, or if communications get disrupted, or a parts vendor has a strike or a production problem, then assembly lines grind to halt. Just one missing part means that no finished products go out the door. In some industries, the complexity and length of the supply chain can be staggering. Some manufacturers of complex products-such as automobiles--now rely on many dozens of parts vendors on several continents. American businessmen have built very big, very complex, very vulnerable supply chains.

The kanban concept has also been taken up by America's retailers, most notably its grocery sellers. In the "old days"--say 20 years ago--grocery stores had well-stocked "back rooms", with many extra cases of dry goods. But now in most stores the "back room" has been replaced with just a pallet break-down area. Merchandise comes in from distribution centers, and it all goes immediately to the consumer shelves out front. Thus, what you see on the grocery store shelf is all that the store has on hand. What you see is what you get. The bar code scanners at the checkout counters feed a complex re-ordering system. If Mrs. Jones buys three bottles of pasta sauce, that could trigger a re-order. (Even the U.S. Military has embraced some "lean" techniques in their maintenance and logistics infrastructures, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars.) As long as communications and transportation work smoothly, then the entire system hums along like a Swiss watch.But what happens when the transportation infrastructure gets disrupted?

B.A. Adds: One of the 9 Wastes (I added one of my own :-) is excess Transport. Ideally, a systemic approach to manufacturing will co-locate (in theory) to the point where no transportation, or even movement is required, so transportation is one of the "nasties" that effective lean thinking tends to eliminate; here are the 8 Wastes (to which I would add "E" for Energy to the TIM WOODS acronym, which now becomes TIMEWOODS :-)
Transport (excess)
Inventory (excess)
Skills, Savvy, Smarts (squandering the inherent genius in all people involved)

One of the factors that has strongly encouraged lean inventories is that many states levy an annual tax on business inventories of finished good or sometimes even semi-finished subassemblies. Also, under the Federal tax law, businesses must "keep an inventory and use the accrual method for purchases and sales of merchandise." As is the case with most other government intervention in the free market, this is another "unintended consequence." Businessmen hate paying a nickel more in tax than they absolutely have to, so by keeping their inventory small, they avoid the taxes. In some states like California, it is not unusual to see annual "inventory reduction" sales, timed for the month before before the annual inventory tax is levied.

The big "lean machine" works great in normal times. But in times of economic instability, or following a natural disaster, the machine can't cope. Panic buying can clean out supermarket shelves in a matter of hours. And again, in most cases there is no longer a "back room" with extra inventory. The important lesson in all this is to be prepared. DO NOT count on being able to buy anything to provide for your family on TEOTWAWKI Day +1. Stock up.

B.A. Adds: "Good points, although I'd emphasize the caveat of stocking up (where it makes sense) on the items that you know you will personally use, and you have the space to store, and that won't suffer any significant shelf-life deterioration, spoilage or nutritional loss (whole grain, water, honey, et cetera.) Also, have some silver for barter currency, [to trade for the items that you overlooked or that you didn't stock in sufficient depth.]"

Also, while the sensitivity and stability of authentic lean manufacturing and production (as is practiced ... or not in many cases) is of some concern, one emphasis that lean senseis make is flexibility and responsiveness, so that, for example, mixed inventory models can respond almost instantaneously to changes in demand (and the intent is to hone the bidirectional speed of communication so that the entire supply web is informed at a much quicker rate to adjust).
The concerns you raise are valid. However, as in so many areas of life, the optimum solutions are not either/or, but both/and. In the case of dependence on technologies such as computer and telecommunication networks, the initial concentration of processing power (mainframes) has given way to vastly distributed, parallel and redundant systems that are far more tolerant of disruptions than ever before.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Mr. Rawles,
Given the unique nature of a flu pandemic, (or a "biological" attack), how would one assemble their retreat group after possible outbreak in one's immediate area, (within 50 miles) with confidence? The vehicle alone that they travel in could be laden with contamination and the door handles become a scary transmission device. Seeing is believing, invisible is invisible.
"To Group or not to Group?", that is the question. - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: There is no way to be certain to avoid exposure if an influenza outbreak is in close proximity. But odds are that the first outbreaks will be in distant regions. That will be the time to act. I've done consulting work for members of three different retreat groups in recent months, and all three had essentially the same concept of operation: If there is news of an outbreak of a rapidly spreading human-to-human ("H2H") flu strain anywhere on the planet, they plan to send out an alert (via e-mail/phone tree), meet up, lock their gates, and hunker down. One group mentioned a 24 hour deadline. The other two groups quoted 36 hours. Nobody will be allowed in after those deadlines. One of these retreat groups plans a novel procedure for any group members that who get delayed and arrive after their deadline: They will be forced to "quarantine camp" on adjoining National Forest land for two weeks, to establish whether or not were infected. With all seriousness, one of the group members that I interviewed said, "If they start getting sick, we'll say say prayers for them--from quite a distance--and then we'll toss them some Sambucol and a shovel."

Monday, February 5, 2007

Thank you for responding to my e-mail. As a healthcare professional, many of us are going to have to make some really hard decisions in more difficult times when drugs will no longer be available. If it came down to having someone die or administering an out of date tetracycline, I would be happy to try the tetracycline out of date or not. Tough choices either way.

The reason I continue this discussion is due partly to an article I read in The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, March 28, 2000, page A-16. 'Many Drugs Prove Potent Long Past Expiration Dates." {see:] This article sites the findings of the Food and Drug Administration when they tested out of date (up to 15 years) military drug stockpile. The purpose was to see if the military could extend the life of its inventory. The testing included tetracycline and aspirin "and typically found batches effective for more than two years." The results on over 100 drugs "showed that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date." I am not in a position to obtain the full report but it must have been great [to read]. - Russ

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Several SurvivalBlog readers mentioned an article that ran recently in the New York Times: U.S. Issues Guidelines in Case of Flu Pandemic. The article begins: "Cities should close schools for up to three months in the event of a severe flu outbreak, ball games and movies should be canceled and working hours staggered so subways and buses are less crowded, the federal government advised today in issuing new pandemic flu guidelines to states and cities.
Health officials acknowledged that such measures would hugely disrupt public life, but they argued that these measure would buy the time needed to produce vaccines and would save lives because flu viruses attack in waves lasting about two months.
“We have to be prepared for a Category 5 pandemic,” said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], in releasing the guidelines. “It’s not easy. The only thing that’s harder is facing the consequences. That will be intolerable.”
In an innovation, the new guidelines are modeled on the five levels of hurricanes, but ranked by lethality instead of wind speed. Category 1, which assumes 90,000 Americans would die, is equivalent to a bad year for seasonal flu, Glen Nowak, a CDC spokesman, said. (About 36,000 Americans die of flu in an average year.) Category 5, which assumes 1.8 million dead, is the equivalent of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. (That flu killed about 2 percent of those infected; the H5N1 flu now circulating in Asia has killed more than 50 percent but is not easily transmitted.)" [End quote.]

Given the lethality rate of H5N1, I think that the CDC officials are overly optimistic, almost to the point of being Pollyannas. They have understated the pandemic threat considerably. As I mentioned in my article Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic, the current strain of the H5N1 virus has a 58% lethality rate for humans. If a new easily transmissible strain emerges, and that strain has the same lethality, imagine this: It could infect 20% of the population, and then kill 58% of those that are infected. In a nation of 300 million that equates to 34.8 million deaths. In fact, the death rate could be even higher. Why? In the recent Asian outbreaks, we have witnessed aggressive hospitalized treatment for all of those that were infected--complete with 24-hour nursing, artificial ventilation, broad spectrum antibiotics (for bacterial co-infections), oxygen therapy, I.V. fluids, experimental anti-virals, the whole works. But in a major pandemic there would not be enough hospital beds for even small percentage of the flu patients. There are roughly 947,000 staffed hospital beds in the U.S. (including prison hospitals) and about 65% of standard beds and 85% in critical care unit beds are filled on any given day. (Some suggest that there is a bed shortage, even in the present day.) And what about hospital ventilators? Forget it! In the U.S. there are "about 105,000 ventilators, and even during a regular flu season, about 100,000 [of them] are in use."

So what is the bottom line? To be more realistic in assessing worst case situations, the CDC needs to add at least a couple more category numbers (i.e. Category 6 and Category 7.) In my estimation the CDC has publicly underestimated the pandemic threat, to avoid widespread panic.

The latest news is that H5N1 has been found in farm poultry in England. It is just a matter of time before it makes its way into U.S. poultry flocks. But H5N1 is not in itself a big public health threat. It is the potential mutated variety "HX" that is the real threat. But for now, H5N1 has circled the globe and may become endemic. Everywhere that it exists, there is the chance that a viable "H2H" strain could emerge. When that happens, watch out!

Are you ready to self-quarantine your entire family to avoid exposure? If not, then you'd better get on the phone to a food storage vendor (there are several very reputable ones that are SurvivalBlog advertisers) and order an honest six month supply of food for your family. Do it NOW, because if you wait until after a flu outbreak, then it will be too late. The supermarket shelves will swept bare in less than 24 hours, nationwide. Human nature dictates that this will happen. That is what people always do in emergencies. We just haven't yet seen it happen from coast to coast.

Friday, January 19, 2007

At the dawn of the 21st century, we are living in an amazing time of prosperity. Our health care is excellent, our grocery store shelves burgeon with a huge assortment of fresh foods, and our telecommunications systems are lightning fast. We have relatively cheap transportation, and our cities are linked by an elaborate and fairly well-maintained system of roads, rails, canals, seaports, and airports. For the first time in human history, the majority of the world's population will soon live in cities rather than in the countryside. But the downside to all this abundance is over-complexity, over-specialization, and lengthy supply chains. In the First World, less than 2% of the population is engaged in agriculture or fishing. Ponder that for a moment: Just 2% are feeding the other 98%. The food on our tables often comes from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Our heating and lighting is provided by power sources typically hundreds of miles away. For many people even their tap water travels hundreds of miles. Our factories produce sophisticated cars and electronics that have subcomponents that are sourced on three continents. It is as if we are all cogs in an enormous invisible machine, each playing our part to make sure that the average Americans comes home from work each day to find: his refrigerator well-stocked with food, his lights reliably come on, his telephone works, his tap gushes pure water, his toilet flushes, his paycheck is automatically deposited to his bank, his garbage is collected, his house is a comfortable 70 degrees, his TV entertainment up and running 24/7, and his DSL connection. We've built our fellow Americans a very big machine that up until now has worked remarkably well, with just a few glitches. But that may not always be the case. As Napoleon found the hard way, long chains of supply and communication are fragile and vulnerable. Someday the big machine may grind to a halt. Let me describe one set of circumstances that could cause that to happen:

Imagine an influenza pandemic, spread by causal contact, that is so virulent that it kills more than half of the people that are infected. And imagine the advance of the disease so rapid that it makes its way around the globe in less than a week. (Isn't modern jet air travel grand?) Consider that we have global news media that is so rabid for "hot" news that they can't resist showing pictures of men in respirators, rubber gloves, and Tyvek coveralls wheeling gurneys out of houses, laden with body bags. They report countless stories like: "Suzie Smith brought the flu bug home from school. Everyone in her family died." and, "Mr. Jones brought the flu home from work. Everyone in his family died." Over and over. Repeated so many times that the majority of citizens decides "I'm not going to go to work tomorrow, or the day after, or in fact until after 'things get better.'" But by not going to work, some important cogs will be missing from the Big Machine. Orders won't get processed at the Wal-Mart distribution center. The 18 Wheel trucks won't make deliveries to groceries stores. Gas stations will run out of fuel. Policemen and firemen won't show up at work. Telephone technicians will call in sick. Power lines will get knocked down in wind storms, and there will be nobody to repair them. Crops will rot in the fields because there will be nobody to pick them, or transport them, or magically bake them into Pop-Tarts, or stock them on your supermarket shelf. The Big Machine will be broken.

Does this sound scary? Sure it does, and it should. The implications are huge. But it gets worse: The average suburbanite only has about a week's worth of food in their pantry. What will they do when it is gone, and there is no reasonably immediate prospect of re-supply? Supermarket shelves will be stripped bare. Faced with the alternative of staying home and starving or going out to meet Mr. Influenza, millions of growling stomachs will force Joe American to go and "forage." The first likely targets will be restaurants, stores, and food distribution warehouses. Not a few "foragers" will soon transition to full scale looting, taking the little that their neighbors have left. Next, they'll move on to farms that are in close proximity to cities. A few looters will form gangs that will be highly mobile and well-armed, ranging deeper and deeper into farmlands, running their vehicles on siphoned or stolen-at-gunpoint gasoline. Eventually their luck will run out and they will all die of the flu, or of instantaneous lead poisoning. But before the looters are all dead they will do a tremendous amount of damage. Be ready to confront them. Your life, and the lives of your loved ones will count on it. You'll need to be able to put a lot of lead down range--at least enough to convince Mr. Looter that he needs to go find some other farm or ranch to loot.

In recent months, the press has shifted its attention, ignoring the continuing threat of Asian Avian Flu mutating into a strain that can be easily transmitted between humans. If and when that mutation occurs--and the epidemiologists tell us that it is more a question of "when" rather than "if"--then things could turn very, very ugly all over the globe. Be prepared. To start getting ready, you should first read the background article on pandemic preparation that I wrote last year, titled "Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic." Next, think through all of the implications of disruption of key portions of our modern technological infrastructure. Plan accordingly. You need to be able to provide water, food, heating, and lighting for your family. Ditto for law enforcement, since odds are that a pandemic will be YOYO ("You're on your own!") time. Get your beans, bullets, and band-aids squared away, pronto. Most importantly, be prepared to hunker down in "self quarantine" for three or four months, with no outside contact. That will take a lot of logistics, as well as plenty of cash on hand to pay your bills in the absence of a continuing income stream.

One closing thought: There are only about 15 large food storage dealers in the country, and even fewer firms that sell non-hybrid ("heirloom") gardening seed. How long do you think that their inventories will last, once there is news that there is an easily transmissible human-to-human flu strain of flu, anywhere on the planet? Prices are currently low and inventories are plentiful. It is better to be a year too early than a day too late. Please consider patronizing one of more of our advertisers. We have half a dozen of them that sell long term storage food and heirloom garden seed. They deserve your business.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Most everyone loves a good medical mystery. You know, we watch these shows like "House" and "ER" to see what the medical emergency is and to watch the drama unfold as they solve the crisis of the moment. Shows like "CSI" teach us a lot about the medical community and police work together to solve crimes. You're going to probably see in the television season to come that the subject in this link is going to be played out in various popular drama shows. Understanding the reality behind it to me is as interesting as the drama plays and I think you'll enjoy getting the behind the scenes scoop on it.

I've been following this avian influenza virus for a while. Here is a link to a television show that was done by medical scientists (Director of the CDC, US Secretary of Health, leading medical scientists, etc.) to help explain what this is and why it's being labeled as "the single most lethal thing our society could face in the year 2007." Politicians and governments around the globe are quietly infusing millions of dollars into preparations and training in pandemic preparedness measures.

If you have the time, please watch it. It's really interesting, on multiple levels, not as a hype that "the world is coming to an end" but rather to be involved in medical matters to educate yourself and be self aware of the situation that is going on with this particular issue. It's aim is to educate them on the issue so that folks will understand what this situation is, exactly. I hope you enjoy learning about it. - April

Thursday, September 7, 2006

It’s a new world: West Nile virus, Cryptosporidium, Anthrax, Norwalk virus, Cholera (in the Gulf States, from shellfish!), Avian Flu, Ebola, Malaria (yes, in the US!), Hepatitis C, HIV / AIDS, genetically-engineered bacteria, and the ominous and very real threat of biological warfare. Thanks to the speed of international travel, persons who would have never made it very far from the point they were infected can now circle the globe in the time it takes to develop symptoms.
Someone you bump into at the mall could have contracted an exotic disease in Africa last week. The person who used the restroom before you could have just come from South America and is only now coming down with cholera. The person you shake hands with could have just shook hands with someone carrying Hepatitis A.
The odds of your becoming infected with a truly dangerous disease are small, but real. (No one even wants to catch a Type A flu!) You could go around in a biohazard suit all day, but of course you’d be treated like some kind of freak. There is good news, though: effective personal hygiene practices don’t have to be "weird" or attention-getting!
There are simple steps that with practice can become second-nature habits, and simple things you can buy, which will significantly reduce your potential for catching any contagious disease. These steps will help with everything from colds and flu to bio-weapon attacks or genetic-engineering accidents.

Do the basics:
Eat right, exercise, get a good night’s sleep. A healthy body is far more resistant to bacteria and viruses.
If there’s an outbreak of the flu, cold, or worse going on in your community, minimize going out in public as much as possible until things get better. If it’s something truly nasty, stay home and eat from your pantry a week until things improve. (Stored food and water are recommended by the Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security.)
Keep in mind that staying well isn’t so much a matter of avoiding germs entirely, as it is minimizing your exposure. It generally takes a certain number of bacteria or viruses to overcome your body’s natural defenses and make you ill. So you get exposed to some germs – it’s not a big deal as long as the number is relatively small because your body will be able to protect you.

Buy the basics:
1. Waterless hand sanitizer lotions are available in the grocery store (Purell is probably best). Buy a little bottle for your pocket or purse. You an refill it from a larger size bottle. Lotions can get into the tiny cracks and crevices in your hand better than towelettes. (Use a generous amount and wash your hands with hot water and antimicrobial soap at your first opportunity.)
2. Buy a couple boxes of pop-up antiseptic / antimicrobial towelettes that contain bleach to keep at home and at work. They make cleanup quicker and less smelly than sprays (and you won’t accidentally get the chemicals on things you don’t want sprayed, like your clothes).
3. Get a box of nonsterile vinyl gloves from your pharmacy or store. They’re inexpensive and also good for painting, cleaning up dog or cat accidents, scrubbing the kitchen or bathroom with harsh chemicals, etc. For your purposes they don’t have to fit snugly like surgical gloves, and vinyl doesn’t have the allergen complications of latex (rubber) gloves. Nitrile gloves are more expensive, but are harder to puncture. Carry a pair of gloves with you, if possible, for those times when you’re giving first aid or you have to handle something that may have been contaminated with germs, chemicals, or even just dirt and grease. They do get old and crack eventually, so you might want to change them every 6 months or so.
4. Buy a box of folding protective masks, 3M model #9211 (about $10). They’re not as efficient as “N100” dust/filter masks, but because they’re foldable you can keep one with you most times. Keep one for each member of your family in your purse, glove box, or briefcase. (NOTE: If you’re wondering, dry masks filter particles better than wet masks.) Your mask should be rated "N95" or better - most “surgical masks” are actually very poor filters and don’t form a good seal to your face. Know how and when to use your mask.
5. A little bottle of nasal saline spray, or Xlear spray (even better), can be used any time you’ve been in close quarters with someone who’s sick. The xylitol in Xlear greatly reduces the number of bacteria or viruses that attach to the inside of your nose and sinus cavities.
6. Get facial tissue pocket-packs to carry in your pocket, purse, or briefcase. They’re better than handkerchiefs, which can continue to re-expose you to the very same bacteria or viruses you just got rid of.

Hand hygiene:
1. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth unless (1) you’ve just washed or sanitized them, or (2) you’re using a facial tissue. Since people often rub their eyes or touch their face unconsciously. Not doing so is probably the hardest new habit to learn. Fewer organisms are floating in the air than have settled out on surfaces (or other person’s hands) that you’ve touched. Not touching your face is the #1 best way of reducing the number of bacteria and viruses that get access to your body. Work on it!
2. Make a habit of washing your hands frequently (for those times when you do accidentally touch your face). Wash every time you use the restroom, before every time you snack, before every meal, and at bedtime.
3. When you wash your hands, remember this: it’s at least as important to dry your hands thoroughly as to wash them thoroughly. Washing rarely kills every germ on your hands, but if your hands are damp, it’s far easier for the few germs on your hands to be transferred to another surface or person than if your hands were completely dry.
4. Glove up any time you’re around bodily fluids, such as at an accident scene, or helping someone who’s become sick. If there’s not time, wash up and sanitize your hands immediately afterwards. The likelihood of infection in this manner is small, but it has happened. Any object or clothing that comes into contact with bodily fluids is contaminated too and needs to be disposed of or disinfected (clothing or bedding can be washed - use a little bleach).
5. On a somewhat related note, encourage children to blow their noses, rather than sniffing when they have a runny nose. Better to expel the stuff rather than inhaling bacteria and viruses still deeper into the nasal passages.
At school, work, or shopping:
1. It may not be practical at work, but try to wash your face at least a couple of times during the day. A washcloth makes this much easier to do – you can wash, and rinse with the same cloth. Put it in a Ziploc for the trip home each day.
2. Don’t hold pencils, pens, or tools in your mouth. Buy a belt holder / holster for frequently-used items if your shirt or uniform doesn’t have a pocket.
3. If you share a keyboard or area at work with someone who’s been sick, wipe your computer keyboard, phone, and entire area down with an antiseptic towelette each day.
4. If a house- or office-guest or customer was coughing or sick, after they leave, wipe down all of the hard surfaces they may have come in contact with: doorknobs (inside & outside), tables & counters, etc. Using one of the commercially available pop-up towelettes that contain bleach will make this more convenient!
5. Spray your nose a couple of times during the day during cold and flu season to wash away germs that may have floated in.

We don’t like to talk about them, but potty functions are one of the greatest opportunities to accidentally transfer germs to surfaces and from there to your eyes, nose, and mouth. Ignorance is not bliss! These steps below will take you only another 30 seconds. A little attention and some simple new habits will go a long way toward protecting you from getting sick:
1. Before doing anything in a public restroom examine the toilet seat that you are contemplating having intimate contact with. If its wet or flecked with stuff, switch stalls.
2. Then, look at the floor around the toilet and run your foot over the tiling. Also look at the back of the toilet seat where it attaches to the wall or tank. If the floor or toilet seat are wet they may have just been cleaned, or the toilet’s recently overflowed, or someone’s got bad aim. In any case, you don’t want cleaning chemicals or toilet overflow on your clothes (and from there to your body and eventually your hands!) – just switch stalls!
3. Flush once before sitting down (if you flush after sitting down you just misted your south end with microscopic bits of stuff left in the water). If there are skid marks or other remnants from previous users, flush and keep flushing until the bowl appears clean, or switch stalls. Even if there is any invisible residue from the previous user still in the water, “pre-flushing” will help remove or dilute it further. (This will also show you if the toilet has been plugged up by the last user and is going to overflow after you use it, in which case, switch stalls!)
4. Take a wad of toilet paper off the roll (check to be sure its not wet – some places leave spare toilet paper (TP) rolls on the floor…), and wipe the toilet seat off. This is also a good check that there is TP in the stall and that you won’t end up being stranded. Buttock skin in its intact state is generally impervious to germs (but not cleaning chemicals). But even if your skin is pristine, the previous user’s may not have been, hence the need for cleaning and a barrier (below).
5. Then put the TP wipe into the water and even add a little more so that you create a “splash-down damper” to minimize splash-back during your use, which at least in theory could infect you through your rectal mucosa. Just think about it for a moment.
6. Toilet seat covers are your extra bit of insurance from coming into contact with something unpleasant on the seat. You can buy seat covers at the grocery store in little plastic carriers for your purse or briefcase (“Charmin To Go” is one example), or take one or two the next time you’re in a public restroom, fold them up, and put them in a little Ziploc Snack-size bag. If the stall doesn’t have seat covers, you can drape TP around on the seat (seat covers are probably faster, but TP is softer…) Some people even carry their own toilet paper (again, you can buy it in little plastic carriers) in case every stall in the restroom they pick is out. (And in case you didn’t know, the toilet seat cover should be flushed.)
7. You’ve checked the seat and floor, wiped the seat, improvised your splash-down damper, and deployed your seat cover in 30 seconds or less. Now, as you sit down, keep one final thing in mind: do not allow any portion of your tender regions to touch the toilet seat, or toilet rim, or its all for naught. This can be an extra challenge for men for reasons that should be apparent. Neither the seat nor rim is sterile, and it may be very unpleasant or impossible to adequately clean yourself once you make accidental contact. ‘Nuff said…
8. Step away from the toilet and dress yourself again when you’re through, check to make sure none of your pocket stuff – guys in particular – has fallen into the toilet (I say this from experience…), and only then flush the toilet. The splashing action and force of many modern toilets creates a fine mist that can contain bits of toilet content and drift around in the air. Exit the stall as the toilet is flushing. No loitering…
9. After you’ve washed your hands with hot water and soap, you should also try to turn the faucet off without touching it with your hands, since the knob(s) could be contaminated. Some faucet designs make this easy with paddle-shaped handles. Newer public faucets are electronic and have no knobs at all. (Imagine your hands with paint on them. If you touched the faucet handles to wash the paint off, how will you turn the faucet off without getting the “paint” back on you again?)
10. After using a public restroom be aware that others have probably left the room without washing their hands, and the doorknob to exit is probably contaminated with their germs. After you’ve washed your hands and thoroughly dried them, keep the paper towels you used and use them to open the door (if it pulls toward you). If there are no towels use a facial tissue, piece of toilet paper, or the sleeve of your coat to grasp the handle, or use the knob but give yourself a generous dab of hand sanitizer (Purell is great) after you exit to sanitize your hands. Throw the paper towel away after you exit the restroom.
11. And while we’re on the subject: clean your home bathroom before guests arrive (so it looks nice!), but also remember to clean your bathroom after they leave (so your guests haven’t inadvertently left you a bio-present).

Minimize eating out. Teenagers and convicts are frequently the food preparers, and neither have very much concern for the basics of food safety. We have often been shocked to see just who was cooking our meals. Not to mention your food and its packaging goes through many more hands than meals prepared at home. Sit-down restaurants are probably better than fast food places, and they may actually serve food fit to eat (less fat, in particular). Observe the employees in restaurants you routinely visit. If they appear unhealthy, find a different place to eat.
Public salad bars, cold food counters, buffets, cold salads, peeled fruit and cream dishes are easily contaminated (by accident or on purpose). Try to avoid these wherever possible. Your food should be steaming hot when it is served to you, to guarantee its at least been heated recently. Undercooked seafood in particular can harbor an amazing variety of diseases (ironically, frying adequately sterilizes most everything). Avoid condiments that are served from dishes that could be coughed on or otherwise contaminated. Avoid dishes which are dipped into with crackers or chips or bread by several different people.
Drink pure water. If possible, don’t drink water from the city water supply (chlorinated water still has dead bacteria in it, may still have active viruses and parasites, and the chlorine really isn’t good for you). If you’re not on your own well, use distilled or reverse osmosis water to drink and cook with. Home water purifiers vary greatly in cost and effectiveness - get the best filter or system you can afford. City water supplies are vulnerable to terrorist attack as well as accidental contamination. Try to avoid drinking out of drinking fountains, if possible (my own son caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in this way, so I know it can happen). Keeping yourself hydrated helps your body be healthy and fight infections.
Flying (also applies to riding the bus or riding the train or subway):
NOTE: People who have flown within the past week get colds at four times the average rate, so a little extra attention to hygiene is worth avoiding a week or more of misery!
1. Leave rested and well fed.
2. Bring your own (little) pillow if it’s going to be a long flight or trip.
3. Spray your nose frequently during and after your trip.
4. Keep your hands away from your face.
5. Keep your hands washed or sanitized.
6. Drink plenty of (bottled) water.
7. Avoid alcohol on your trip - it dries out your body quicker.
8. If you’re seated near someone who’s obviously ill, ask a flight attendant for a different seat if possible. If you’re on a bus or train, move somewhere else. If you can’t move, and the person sounds sick enough, break out your folding dust mask.

Using a Dust Mask:
You usually only want to wear a mask under three conditions. One, if there is a particularly bad flu or cold going around, and your immune system is already run down from another illness, medication, or surgery. Or if you’re “trapped” sitting near someone who’s obviously very sick, but you can’t get away because you’re in an airplane, bus, train, or subway. Or finally, if you suspect there has been some kind of biowarfare release in your area, or refugees are arriving in town from a city that’s been attacked.
Things to remember when using a protective mask:
1. Getting a good seal around the mask against your face is critical. If air is able to leak around the mask and into your mouth and nose it is not being filtered. Follow the directions that come with the mask closely.
2. Once you arrive at a safe destination – an evacuation point or your own home – keep your mask on while you change clothes outside. Bag up your contaminated clothes until you can find out if it was a real biological or chemical attack. If no one else is at home to help, just do your best to contaminate as few areas as possible while doing this.
3. Treat the outside of your mask as contaminated. If there really were harmful biological organisms in the air that it filtered out, they’re now stuck to the outside of the mask. Take it off carefully, outdoors, so as not to disturb the germs on its surface, then dispose of it in a sealed bag.
4. Then thoroughly wash and disinfect your hands and face (use Purell, but don’t get it in your eyes; even just soap and water is good), then take a shower. If you have some zinc-base eye drops use them to try to flush and disinfect your eyes (bacteria and viruses getting into your lungs are a much greater threat than eyes).

When using a locker room, pool, or public shower try to keep your wet feet from touching clothing that will eventually touch your body. This can be pretty tricky (bathing suits, underwear, pants, etc.), but you really don’t want to apply what’s on the floor to your body. And don’t put your clothes on the floor for the same reason. Every time I’ve gotten “athlete’s foot” its been from showering at the gym or pool, so you know there are germs there!
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t share makeup, chap-stick, lipstick, powder brushes, etc. that have been used by others because of the possibility that they may contaminate you. The risk is low, but there is some risk. Use a little common sense.

In an actual biological warfare attack:
If there is a known biowarfare release in your area and you use your car to drive home, your car may become contaminated inside (from you) and outside, and you may be taking deadly biological agents with you to contaminate your home. Also, studies have shown that nearby buildings are a much better shelter from biological or chemical weapons than cars are.
If the government is pretty sure there has been a biological attack, go to the decontamination areas specified by the government over the radio or television. If you’ve gotten a good dose of germs you’re going to need professional medical help to decontaminate yourself and to survive the exposure. Quick use of your protective mask will reduce your exposure. The key phrase is “minimize your exposure.”
If you’re concerned about biological warfare, get more information from the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control, the RAND Corporation, or the American Red Cross. Paranoia doesn’t help, but reasonable preparation makes a lot of sense.

Print out, laminate, and refer to the following summary. Some habits are hard to break and will need constant work:


Hand hygiene:
Keep your hands away from your face
Wash and thoroughly dry your hands frequently
Wear gloves if you know something is contaminated

At school, work, or shopping:
Wash your face a couple of times during the day [washcloth]
Don’t put stuff in your mouth.
After a potentially sick persons leaves, wipe down all of the hard surfaces
Spray your nose often

Check the toilet seat
Check around and behind the toilet
Wipe the seat
Make your splash-down damper
Use a toilet seat cover
Don’t touch the toilet seat or toilet rim
Step away from the toilet and dress. Exit the stall as the toilet is flushing.
Wash with soap and hot water – don’t touch the faucet handles afterwards
Don’t touch the restroom door handle – use a paper towel or something

Minimize eating out.
Avoid salad bars, cold food counters, and buffets
Drink lots of pure water.

Public Transit: (in addition to the above)
Leave rested and well fed.
Bring your own pillow
Avoid alcohol on your trip - it dries out your body quicker.
If you’re seated near someone who’s obviously ill, just move

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hello Jim:
Thought that this might be important, so am sending you a link to an article from Recombinomics. Read carefully--and between the lines. On the first page, click on the 'alarming' link. Then on that page, click on the 'rapidly growing cluster' link. From there, the next interesting link is 'have failed to match'.
Hopefully this is not the beginning of rapid H2H transfer, but Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) does seem to be mutating rapidly. When the folks at Recombinomics, ProMED, and CIDRAP all seem to be concerned, I get just a bit on edge. Thanks, - Cactus Pete in Oklahoma

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

1) I don't know if you've seen it yet, but there is a map of "Waterfowl Flyways of North America" (put mouse cursor on icon in lower right corner and click to enlarge). This shows the routes that migratory ducks and geese follow when they return to the southern USA in the fall after mingling with Eurasian migratory birds in the subarctic over the summer.
2) That is, the map shows the primary routes along which Avian flu would be transmitted into the USA:
a) Coastal bays like the Chesapeake and Delaware on the East Coast and San Francisco on the West Coast ,
b) Major rivers like the Hudson (New York), Susquehanna (Pennsylvania), Potomac (Maryland/Virginia), Mississippi plus tributaries (Midwest),
Ohio (Midwest), and Columbia (Oregon) , and
c) Either side of major barriers like the Rocky Mountains, the deserts of Nevada/Arizona, and the Sierra Mountains
3) Note that it's possible that an Avian flu pandemic might persist for several years, since flocks of migratory waterfowl form a "reservoir" in which it can culture --in the same way that the plague is preserved in prairie dog colonies of the Southwest USA and infects people every year. See: "Plagues and Peoples" by William McNeill.
4) As an exercise in "survivalist paranoia", it's interesting that Porter Goss abruptly resigned as Director of CIA back in early May -- a few days after the White House released it's Pandemic Flu plan. Most people don't know that Porter Goss is quite wealthy --well over a million net worth. In the 1960s after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Porter Goss left the CIA and settled on Sanibel Island near the bottom of southwest Florida -- one of only a few spots in the USA that would have survived the massive fallout from a Soviet Nuclear Strike.
5) Now, the news reports that "Goss and his wife own a central Virginia farm, where they raise cattle, sheep and chickens. " See very bottom of this article
It just so happens that Porter Goss's Central Virginia farm is one of the few spots in the country that does not have geese carrying Avian flu flying over it.
6) When the pandemic hits, interstate transport shuts down and the politicians in Washington are feeding on each other like cannibals --literally, not just politically -- Goss will be setting on his front porch eating homemade cheese, sipping homemade Cabernet and enjoying the rural sunset. Laughing his behind off as he tells his wife about how Donald Rumsfeld talked
Vice President Dick Cheney into buying a $2.9 Million estate on the Chesapeake Bay--an area which receives the largest dump of migratory goose droppings in the country. Regards, - D.W.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The following are some interesting quotes that I found when doing some of genealogy research. (One of my ancestors was a Norseman who died of the plague in Avignon in 1349.)

In Parma, Italy, the poet Petrarch wrote to his brother:
When has any such thing been even heard or seen; in what annals has it ever been read that houses were left vacant, cities deserted, the country neglected, the fields too small for the dead and a fearful and universal solitude over the whole earth?... Oh happy people of the future, who have not known these miseries and perchance will class our testimony with the fables.

An account by Marchionne, written from Florence:

Such was the terror this caused that seeing it take hold in a household, as soon as it started, nobody remained: everybody abandoned the dwelling in fear, and fled to another; some fled into the city and others into the countryside. No doctors were to be found, because they were dying like everybody else... Sons abandoned fathers, husbands wives, wives husbands, one brother the other, one sister the other.

... The foodstuffs suitable for the sick, cakes and sugar, reached outrageous prices. A pound of sugar was sold at between three and eight florins, and the same went for other confectionery. Chickens and other poultry were unbelievably expensive, and eggs were between 12 and 24 denari each: you were lucky to find three in a day, even searching through the whole city. Wax was unbelievable: a pound of wax rose to more than a florin, ... The shroud-cloth apparel which used to cost... three florins, rose in price to thirty florins... No industry was busy in Florence; all the workshops were locked up, all the inns were closed, only chemists and churches were open. .. Those who especially profited from the plague were the chemists, the doctors, the poulterers, the undertakers... And those who made the most were these herb sellers. Woollen merchants and retailers when they came across cloth could sell it for whatever price they asked. Once the plague had finished, anybody who could get hold of whatsoever kind of cloth, or found the raw materials to make it, became rich. (Adapted from: George Deaux, The Black Death 1347. New York: Weybright and Talley, 1969.)

The plague had large scale social and economic effects... People abandoned their friends and family, fled cities, and shut themselves off from the world. Funeral rites became perfunctory or stopped altogether, and work ceased being done. ...The economy underwent abrupt and extreme inflation. Since it was so difficult (and dangerous) to procure goods through trade and to produce them, the prices of both goods produced locally and those imported from afar skyrocketed. Because of illness and death workers became exceedingly scarce, so even peasants felt the effects of the new rise in wages. (Courie, Leonard W. The Black Death and Peasant's Revolt. New York: Wayland Publishers, 1972; Strayer, Joseph R., ed. Dictionary of the Middle Ages. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Vol. 2. pp. 257-267.)

If this isn't an argument for food storage in the event of a flu pandemic, I don't know what is! Because trade had shut down, the price of food and necessities sold for exorbitant prices if they could be found at all. Of course we saw some of this during hurricane Katrina, but this was just a localized event. Imagine truckers refusing to drive to pandemic stricken cities. Imagine store managers refusing to open their stores.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Regarding the question of fish and infection with H5N1 influenza virus: This is not the first time this question has come across my desk. While it is not wise to say "absolutely never" in biology, I find actual infection of fish with influenza viruses to be extremely unlikely. I've never encountered any study to show that fish (or insects, before someone asks) can be infected with or transmit influenza viruses. I am a public health M.D./epidemiologist, not a virologist, so I am prepared to be wrong. But I'd be surprised. The issue is not so much that certain animals are "cold blooded" -- although that perhaps plays a role, since viruses have preferred temperatures for carrying out the molecular steps for infection -- but rather involves the specific molecular biology of the influenza virus. In particular, there are specific proteins (hemagglutinin or "HA") on the outside of each virus that determine what sorts of animal cells the virus can attach to and thereby infect. I don't think any HA molecule subtypes will attach to the cell receptors found in fish or insects. Further, the various other components of the virus are also necessary for an infection cycle to be successful, and these components would probably not be expected to function properly in non-mammal, non-avian cells.
Having said all that, the issue of environmental "contamination" with this virus has indeed been raised with regard to fish farming. Influenza viruses in general are able to remain viable in the environment for extended periods, especially if cold and wet. There have been concerns raised (and refuted, but with little direct evidence one way or another) about chicken manure used as fish food in integrated operations in Asia. The real concern is that transport and spread of untreated manure from infected poultry could contribute to local spread of the virus, not so much that the farmed fish are directly infected. It's worth reminding everyone that cooking easily kills influenza virus and other pathogens. If preparing raw meats, always practice safe kitchen procedures and avoid cross-contamination of cutting boards etc. Then WASH YOUR HANDS. I eat sushi, for what it's worth. - A Public Health Physician

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Hello Jim,
We now know that cats and dogs can contract the [Asian] bird flu from ingesting contaminated/infected meat. What about fish in open ponds with infected ducks and geese contaminating the water? I have not heard anything about it, but wonder what might happen. Food for thought? - Mike in Michigan

JWR Replies: Answering that goes far beyond my expertise. Perhaps some of our readers who are doctors (preferably with an epidemiology background) would care to comment.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
March 22, 2006 - why it's not going human to human (yet)

Where is it now (map)
Note that there is a Yahoo group on this that John Locke hosts:

I should also mention that a person on my group alerted me to this site on bird flu: which has the most forthright presentation of what you can do and should consider as to hygiene that I have seen:

Regards, - Rourke

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dear Jim:
All the talk about Bird Flu, and we are noticing we have a Mumps outbreak going on: “The mumps outbreak is being called the nation's worst in 20 years. As of Thursday, Iowa had 975 cases of probable, confirmed and suspected cases, said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the state epidemiologist.” In addition, see the CDC's backgrounder on Mumps. Regards, - Rourke

Sunday, April 9, 2006

In rebuttal to the letter posted by Dr. BCE on Saturday, April 8, 2006:

Dear Dr. BCE:

My article is entitled "Suggestions" not answers to the Avian flu. We are currently in the process of testing the product on H5N1 patients in Asia. Time will tell if it works and to what degree. Dr. BCE, if you think you have a better idea of what to do, then by all means post it. I don't mean this in an adversarial way, I'd really like to see another protocol, any protocol. Until I see someone else step up to the plate and offer another protocol, I'll stick with what I've done. Survival is never guaranteed, you do the best with what you have.

OBTW, I read back through some of the past archives [in SurvivalBlog] about the use of elderberry extract. To clarify what I said in the article, elderberry is great for the common flu but for the H5N1, it must be balanced with a TNFa inhibitor like tumeric. Otherwise the benefits of the elderberry may be outweighed by the increased cytokine storm it also engenders.

Sincerely, - Spencer Feldman

Saturday, April 8, 2006

I read with concern the post yesterday (Friday 7th April) about Avian influenza. The post while appearing to be well referenced, in fact misrepresents what many of the trials and studies referred to actually state. The general implication is that there is a vast body of scientific research supporting the authors position. This is not the case at all, the articles do not say this and the authors spin on what some say misrepresents them. The majority are very early in-vitro or animal model studies which do not translate at all in terms of efficacy in humans. Most biomedical scientists would agree that only about 1:500-1000 of these very early trials will go on to a meaningful application in human medicine - it is plain wrong and intellectually dishonest to use them as the author has done here. Cheers. - Dr. BCE from New Zealand

Friday, April 7, 2006

The H5N1 (Asian Avian Flu or "Bird Flu") virus owes its lethality to its ability to instigate pathological immune responses in the host via cytokine storm. This leads to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and massive infiltration of inflammatory cells into the lungs. Thus, any H5N1 protocol must take into consideration, not only the inhibition of the virus, but also the effects of DIC and alveolar flooding.
Given that there are reports of some patients dying within three hours of initial symptoms, any medical response must be swift and aggressive.
Traditional models for treatment outside of a hospital setting rely upon antiviral medications. This is insufficient as there are now strains of the H5N1 that are resistant to all major antiviral drugs, and furthermore does nothing to address the issues of DIC and alveolar flooding.
Alternative models concentrate on immune stimulating products. This is a dangerous idea as it is the strength of the immune response that makes the H5N1 so deadly. Increasing immune response may prevent an initial infection, but in an infection that has already taken hold, it will only worsen the outcome.

Preventative Measures
Studies suggest that Vitamin E and Selenium may decrease the infectivity and pathogenicity of the H5N1 Avian Influenza(1). Additionally, air pollutants have shown to increase the risk of contracting the H5N1 Avian Influenza(2). Raising glutathione, a primary detoxification pathway for petrochemicals may be of benefit. Finally, strengthening capillary walls may be suggested in preparation for a possible hemorrhagic episode.

Acute Management
Current scientific thought holds that the lethality of the H5N1 Avian Influenza may be caused by systemic viral dissemination, cytokine storm and/or alveolar flooding(3).
As such, an intelligent protocol for supporting the body would be to take these factors into consideration.
The H5N1 Avian Influenza contains the compounds Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase (also called sialidase). Both of these compounds are required in the infection cycle of certain virus. The drugs Zanamivir and Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) are both Neuraminidase inhibitors. One study suggests that the common Chinese Herb Astragalus may also be a Neuraminidase inhibitor(4). Since another study(5) suggests that Ca2+ and Mag2+ both speed up the activity of neuraminidase, and that Ca2+ is required for its function, making these elements unavailable via chelation with sodium and potassium citrate may be of use.
Studies also suggest that Lactoferrin(6), sulfated polysaccharides such as Ceramium Rubrum(7) (Red Marine Algae) and Elderberries(8) may be Hemagglutinin inhibitors. Unfortunately, Elderberry also increases cytokines (see above) especially Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNFa)(9) which is specifically associated with the toxicity of the H5N1 Avian Influenza (10).
For this reason, ingredients that studies suggest normalize TNFa such as Curcumin and Vitamin E (11),(12) should be considered.
One outcome of a cytokine storm can be disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). DIC may be responsible for the massive hemorrhaging seen with the H5N1 Avian Influenza(13). Thus, in addition to supporting normal cytokine levels, supporting the body in normalizing blood coagulation parameters with nutritional compounds may also be suggested(14),(15),(16).
The drugs Amantadine and Rimantadine work by inhibiting the matrix protein(s). Studies indicate that Glutathione and Resveratrol may have an effect on matrix proteins as well(17), (18).
Finally, Lactoferrin may support the body in decreasing infiltration into the lungs of inflammatory cells(19).

Emergency Solution
While I have already manufactured a product that contains all of the ingredients listed, the FDA does not allow for commercial sale alternative products to be made (other than homeopathics) for the bird flu. (While no claims are made nor can be made for a product with these ingredients, those interested in procuring some for research use only can do so by calling the author at: 808-573-8166.) You can see the other products we make at

The following ingredients should be available locally and would be the basis of a makeshift H5N1 survival pack.
1- Curry powder as a source of turmeric to suppress TNFa
2- Red wine with the alcohol boiled off as a source of resveratrol
3- Kelp as a hemagglutinin inhibitor
4- Astragalus as a neuraminidase inhibitor (available at any Chinese herb shop)
5- Vitamin E as a blood thinner (available at any health food store)

Reports of people dying from the H5N1 Influenza in as little as three hours from the first signs of infection suggest the necessity of carrying on one’s person whatever they consider an adequate defense against this infection.
To recap,
In designing such a defense, the key factors to address regarding the H5N1 virus would be:
1- Decreasing the risk of initial infection
2- Decreasing the potential virulence of infection
3- Inhibiting Hemagglutinin
4- Inhibiting Neuraminidase
5- Inhibiting Matrix proteins
6- Binding of viral receptor sites
6- Reduction of calcium and magnesium
6- Decreasing general inflammatory cytokines
7- Decreasing TNF-a in particular
8- Supporting normal platelet activity
9- Decreasing free radical activity in the lungs
10- Minimizing hemorrhage
11- Strengthening blood vessels
12- Protecting against the after effect of hemorrhage
13- Replenishing electrolytes lost to diarrhea
14- Inhibiting secondary infections

JWR Adds: I have contacted the inventor personally. He told me that if an easily transmissible strain of Asian Flu does break out, it is likely that he will make his product available as long as supplies last.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Regarding the very enjoyable letter about the Spanish Flu in1918, I can't resist one comment. It is with incredible relentlessness that Big Pharma in their zest to sell vaccines keeps stating that we have 30,000 or 36,000 deaths per year from the flu. If you take the time to examine the actual CDC published data it is a bit different. I did a while back, and I seem to recall the 2003 and 2004 numbers being closer to 600 to 900 deaths per year from the flu. The deaths from pneumonia are close to 35,000 per year, so it appears they are adding them together to get to commonly trumpeted 36,000 deaths. Unfortunately they are not actually the same thing and you cannot combine them and call it one or the other. So, the relative difference between the percentage of the population that died from the Spanish Flu and current flu death rates is actually even more impressive than Tim described. I also am hesitant to accept the current death rates of this newest avian flu simply because it is rare enough that I suspect many of the cases that folk have had and recovered from are not being correctly documented or reported. However, perhaps doctors are universally more observant than I presume. Who knows? - B.F.

Monday, March 27, 2006

With so much in the news these days about SARS, the Asian Avian flu and others it is always of interest to look back and see what has happened before. The last really big worldwide flu epidemic was the so-called Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. It killed over 40 million people worldwide, with about 500,000 deaths in the US.
It was called the Spanish Flu because the first publicly recorded deaths from the disease were reported in newspapers in Spain. Their newspapers were not censored as many other countries were at the time due to World War I. When reporters wrote of a deadly new disease hitting that country during the late summer of 1918 most people assumed it had started there.
However, according to information I have read, the first actual cases were recorded at US Army bases. The first were reported at Camp Funston in Kansas on March 4, 1918 when scores of U.S. soldiers became ill. The U.S. troops spread the virus to Europe, but then the disease went into a slight dormancy for the summer. When it re-emerged in the fall, it became much more lethal.
Much of the problem, as with any other communicable disease, was the movement of people. In this instance it was soldiers being moved from place to place that fueled the spread. The disease spread easily in the crowded conditions of the barracks and troop ships and even more easily in the trenches where crowding was a factor and living conditions were horrible. From there it spread to civilians in Europe and came home with troops returning from the front. Travel of the disease was approximately the speed of travel of the time. It took months for it to move around the world because that was the fastest people could move back then via ship. If nothing else, any new disease will certainly spread much faster today. Due to travel via airlines, it could easily spread around the world in a few days if not a few hours.
In 1918 the disease began to take a serious toll in the US and Europe in August – when flu cases became abnormally high and continued until the following July when the number of cases dropped back to normal levels. During that time it is estimated that around 20 million Americans became sick and around 500,000 died. In October 1918, when the flu reached its peak in the US, it killed about 195,000 Americans in that month alone.
These numbers may not appear to be all that high until you remember that the population of the US was only about 100 million at the time. That means that 20% of the population became sick and 0.5% died of the disease. In a typical year – with a population of about 300 million today – the flu kills about 30,000 people or about 0.01% of the population. That means that the 1918 flu was about 50 times more deadly than a normal year! If a disease of the same virulence were to strike the US today the number of people who became sick would be around 60 million with about 1.5 million dead. Those are large numbers indeed.
Another unusual thing about the 1918 flu was the people it struck down. Normally the flu strikes the old and the young - those with weaker immune systems. However, this flu struck down those people and the young and strong. In fact, when graphed, disease tolls usually look like a U with the largest numbers of deaths at the high and low end of the age scale with only a few in the middle. The 1918-flu epidemic looked more like a W with a spike in the middle for young healthy people who normally do not die. In fact, of the 110,000 deaths our military suffered in Europe during that fall 57,000 of those died of the flu - “only” 53,000 died in battle!
Back in the US, after deaths from the disease began in earnest, people began to try to protect themselves. However, viruses were unknown at the time so the protections people attempted were ineffective. People began to wear masks in public, which do provide some level of protection against large airborne particles but airborne viruses are so small that to them the mask barely even exists. They pass with impunity. Also, many times the method of transmission can be through touch. A person touches an infected person or something that an infected person touched and then later touches themselves on a mucus membrane – the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. and the virus is transmitted.
The death rate became so scary that many local governing bodies closed down theaters, churches, and other public gatherings. For example during one day in October in New York City 851 people died of the flu! New York City hastily passed ordinances that made it illegal to spit, cough, or sneeze in public -- with the threat of $500 fines. Five hundred dollars is a big fine today. Back then it was the price of the Model T Ford! Today that fine would be ten or twenty thousand dollars!! They were deadly serious about trying to control the spread of the flu . . .
Closer to home, at Syracuse University during October 1918 the campus was quarantined for two and a half weeks because of the epidemic. Twelve students died and emergency hospitals were erected in dormitories. At the time there were about 2000 students so this was very serious when people of college age would normally hardly be affected by the flu.
Now let’s move forward to today. The current death rate for people infected with the avian flu varies from between 30% and 60% depending on the exact strain and that is with the best of medical care, anti-viral drugs, etc. That is an appalling number. So far we are very lucky that the disease cannot be transmitted from human to human. All known cases so far come from contact with birds but that could change. If it does, we should all pray that the death rate becomes more along the lines of the 1918 flu or we are in for a very rough ride indeed. Imagine how our society would be affected and react if a disease suddenly appeared that killed 25% of those it infected? Even if it only infects 20% of the population, as the 1918 strain did, that would still mean 5% of the population dead - 15 million in the US alone. Imagine the disruptions that would occur with a significant number of people in our society dead in such a short period of time. Hospitals would be overwhelmed and our highly specialized society would be at serious risk of short-term collapse. That is not a very pleasant thought. How many of us are prepared spiritually, mentally and /or physically for that sort of collapse? If a nationwide quarantine had to be instituted it would likely be on the order of two to four weeks. How many of us have enough food, fuel, etc. to get through a period of that length? It is certainly something to think – and pray - about.
Finally, on a more personal note, in the summer of 2003 - during the SARS scare - I traveled on business to Taiwan. Since there were outbreaks in Asia my colleagues could not visit the US without spending a week in a US quarantine facility – not such a pleasant prospect. I was able to travel to Taiwan with no such requirement, so off I went. When I arrived I found there was an additional step to go through before one could get to the passport check and immigration control. All passengers had to pass through a health station. It didn’t really take much time at all but I found it interesting and it got me to thinking (dangerous!!). There were a number of Taiwanese health officers there and everyone had to pass through a control point single file where it was obvious that we were being visually examined. I was told later that there were infrared temperature sensors set to monitor people as they passed through. If you happened to have a body temperature outside of a pre-programmed range or – Lord help you - a fever, you would be taken aside for “further examination” and possible quarantine. Thankfully I had no such trouble. If the next flu pandemic breaks out during my lifetime, I hope that I am not traveling. I prefer to be at home during such an event, not stuck in some strange place . . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

As ABC news reported: "In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States..." See:

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Hi Jim!
Long time no answer. Sorry about that! I've been reading you blog for a while now, and find features like the Claire Files Forum very readable and useful. The Retreat Areas, Profiles and Survival Guns sections are my favourites! You guys have been doing a great work putting you blog together.

Right now here in Scandinavia there is a lots of focus in the media on AAV H5N1 Birds are flying north and bringing the virus with them! And many are really afraid of mutation of that virus! And local authorities have not readiness enough if something happens. Here a couple a weeks ago some people called the cops (I was monitoring my scanner) of some dead birds in a pond, police arrived, they called fire department, they called county health and it ended with the military came and take care of the dead animals. Guess how many curious people wanted to see what is going on??? Just in case its good to be prepared, at least know what to do if something breaks out! Take care and keep on blogging! Cheers - Jan

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Just got the chance to listen to some of the Ark Institute radio programming archives from this October. It might be a good idea to remind people those audio files are still there to enjoy. Still just as topical today as then. - R.S.

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. For details on how to hear the webcast archives, visit the Republic Radio web site:  The interviews that you mentioned were conducted on October 15th and October 22nd.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

I just completed reading a book entitled, "Return of the Black Death: The World's Greatest Serial Killer" by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan.
This book is a history of the Black Death that gripped Europe from October of 1347 through the late 1600s. The premise of the book is that the disease that caused the plague was NOT the Bubonic Plague - which is spread by rat fleas and is a bacteria - but a viral disease and a version of hemorrhagic fever possibly related to Ebola. They make the case rather convincingly based upon accounts of the course of the disease that were written at the time and on records kept by local church parishes of deaths from the plague via which they are able to follow the course of the disease in a number of small towns.
From the records it is easy to see that the disease did not spread in a manner which would be typical for a disease spread by rats and fleas, but was consistent with a disease spread by human contact. The book convinced me that their premise is correct and that we have much to fear from a possible re-emergence of this disease. At the time of its first emergence the disease took three years to kill half the population of Europe - moving at essentially a walking pace from its point of origin in Italy up through central Europe then England, Scandinavia, and finally even Iceland. Today the progress would be MUCH more rapid. The really scary part about the original Black Death is that a person is contagious for about three weeks before they even become aware that they are infected. The course of the disease is generally about 37 days. The latent period (the period where one is infected but not infectious) being about 12 days, followed by an infectious period of about 21 days which is BEFORE the first symptoms appear. Then the symptomatic period is generally one to five days before death finally occurs. The symptoms initially consist of red and/or black splotches on the chest known at the time as God's Tokens - from the time the "Tokens"appear a person generally has about three days to live.
On your web site there is has been talk about self quarantine and what sort of time frame one would need to prepare for. This book gives a pretty good idea based on real events. First they tried 30 days and the disease still spread so, over time the quarantine period was changed to 40 days. This fits with the books view of the course of the disease - a person who is infected might not be showing any signs at 30 days so the quarantine must extend beyond that. The 40 day quarantine period was enough to stop the spread of the disease, but only in households where they already knew the disease was present. So, if someone in a house became sick with the plague the house was quarantined for 40 days from the last signs of the disease. For example, if the father becomes sick and shows signs of the plague then the house is quarantined for 40 days from his death or recovery. If anyone else becomes sick after that time - during the quarantine - the quarantine period is extended for an additional 40 days from that person's death or recovery.
Finally, it can be seen from examples given in the book that a better self quarantine period for people trying to avoid the disease completely is something on the order of 18 months to 2 years. For example, in the town of Penrith, in England, the disease struck in September of 1597. The last recorded case of death by plague in the town from this same outbreak was in January of 1599! The population of the town was about 1350 people at the start and by the end of the epidemic about 640 people died from the black death - 48% of the town died in the epidemic! In another town named Eyam - also in England and also using the church records - the disease follows the same course, with one twist. The inhabitants of the town agreed to create their own quarantine or "cordon sanitaire" around the town and allow no-one in or out as they were the only town in the area with the plague and did not want to spread it to others. The outbreak started in the summer of 1665 and continued through the following fall and winter and re-emerged with renewed intensity during the spring and summer of 1666 until it finally burned out during that winter with the last recorded death from plague being in December 1666. The town had 350 inhabitants before the plague and 260 died of it - a death rate of 75%! The Rector of the town, who survived the epidemic, wrote the following in a letter to his father after the plague has passed: "The condition of this place hath been so dreadful that I persuade myself it exceedeth all history and example. I may truly say that our Town has become a Golgotha, a place of skulls; and had there not been a small amount of us left, we had been as Sodom and like unto Gomorrah. My ears never heard such doleful lamentations. My nose never smelt such noisome smells and my eyes never beheld such ghastly spectacles."
I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on a lot of these things, but this book was a real eye opener on what happened during the time of the Black Death and how drastically it affected society. Another thing that I found very interesting was how quickly society recovered. However, I think that is based on the level of knowledge at the time. Virtually everyone knew how to raise their own food and specialization was not so pronounced. If the same plague were to strike today I am quite sure that our society would collapse for an extended period of time. We are much too interdependent and people do NOT have the knowledge of how everything worked as the people of that time did. I came away from reading this book with a new found desire to increase my supplies and preparedness! - Tim P.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

[In your article on Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic] you mention: "Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well - for treating fevers." Some of us know that a mild fever is a good thing. [It is part of the] immune system response to fighting the virus. Aspirin is a symptom treater and can cause a virus to live longer in it's host. See:

JWR Replies: Yes, a mild fever can be a good thing, but a high fever can cause complications. A high fever should definitely be knocked down quickly.  Hence my advice on storing Acetominophen and Ibuprofen. Also, keep in mind that a fever can exacerbate dehydration when diarrhea is an issue.  For details, see:

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I found the following at the CongressDaily ( web site. Excerpting briefly from their story: "President Bush's request for more than $7 billion in emergency funding to prepare for a possible outbreak of avian flu "had better pass" before Congress adjourns for the year, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist [who is also a medical doctor] , R-Tenn., declared Sunday.  "We need to be prepared," Frist said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," adding, "I'm very hopeful that we will invest $7.1 billion to look at prevention, to look at care, to look at treatment." The measure might be attached to the fiscal 2006 Defense appropriations bill, although some House conservatives are insisting that the $7 billion be offset.

Fears of a pandemic have increased as a virus infecting millions of birds has spread throughout Asia and parts of Europe. The so-called bird flu has not yet appeared in the United States or spread from person to person abroad, but officials worry that it could mutate and become highly contagious because humans have no immunity to it. Frist said the spending request is only a fraction of an estimated $675 billion hit that the U.S. economy could take, with possibly two million dying from bird flu and up to 90 million sickened. "I don't think it's going to happen right now or tomorrow," Frist said. "But if it does happen, it's devastating."

Mr. Rawles:

I have some questions for you: [JWR's replies are in line, in bold]

1.) Regarding the Sambucol products.
--Does this product have any preventative component or do you only take it when symptoms occur?

Take it only immediately after symptoms occur.

--How many 7.8 oz. bottles do you recommend for storage for a family or families in a homestead?

We are a family of five, and I bought six bottles.  But we plan to be living in isolated self-quaratine, here in the boonies.  And BTW, half of what I bought was intended charity.  For those of you that are not self-employed or otherwise don't anticipate being able to live in self-quarantine, you should probably buy a larger quantity.

2.) Regarding discussion on G.O.O.D. vehicles.
--I reviewed all the articles and posts and it appears that the consensus is that pre-1993 vehicles offer the best EMP protection. Do you have any new info or insights on this subject.

Pre-1993 is a fairly safe bet for diesel engines, but not for gasoline engines, which started "going electronic" in the late 1970s. Unless you are quite familiar with car engines, you really need to consult with a mechanic from a dealership for the particular manufacturer of your vehicle to be certain that any particular make/model/year has a traditional rotor/points/condenser ignition system and that it has traditional carburetion rather than electronically-controlled fuel injection.  BTW, many gas-powered engines from the 1980s and 1990s can be retrofitted with a traditional ignition system. Again, you need to ask someone with expertise to ascertain the details. Alternatively, you can buy one or more spare identical electronic ignition system CPUs from wrecking yards to store in metal cans. (Faraday protection.)

3.) Regarding storage foods
--What percentage of MRE's and freeze-drieds do you recommend?

That depends on your circumstances.  For someone that lives at their intended retreat year-round, as much as 90% of their storage food should be in bulk containers such as five gallon pails.  But for someone that plans to "Get out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) at the 11th hour, perhaps as much as 25% of your food should be divided equally between freeze dried and MREs. (And of course nearly all of the bulk storage food should be pre-positioned at your retreat.)  See my Links page for recommended vendors.  If you buy your storage food from any of them, please mention where you got the recommendation. (Many of them are SurvivalBlog advertisers--or they should be.)

--Are there any other types of storage foods that you would suggest?

Don't overlook stocking up larger quantities of the wet-packed canned foods that you use on a regular basis.   Yes, they are fairly bulky, heavy, and need to be rotated frequently, but "per dollar" they are a fairly efficient use of household funds for storage foods.

Also consider the new retort packaged foods (such as stews. These are quite convenient. There are also a surprising number of canned foods that have switched to pull top lids in the last couple of years. OBTW, mark the date of purchase with a Sharpie pen on ALL storage foods, so that you can rotate them consistently.

4.) Regarding the Housing Bubble and Real Estate
--If the bubble is to burst in 2006 wouldn't that lead to much lower real estate prices? Therefore would it be prudent to wait for this before purchasing land for a homestead/retreat? Or should we not concern ourselves with what the market is doing?

I am of the opinion that the biggest declines in house prices will occur in urban and suburban real estate.  Productive farm land will probably only go down slightly, since it has been depressed (in terms of its real value) for decades. And houses on 5 to 40 acres in choice retreat locales might actually go up in price, as yuppies flee the cities in opening stages of the next depression.  IMHO, you can't go wrong buying a house on a 40 acre parcel with productive soil and spring-fed water and that is situated in a lightly populated region well removed from the major population centers.  The downside risk is minimal.

5.) Regarding barter guns and ammo
--In a post TEOTWAWKI barter economy which do you think will be more in demand-shotguns or pistols? Could you please give us your reasoning on this?

Both will be in demand, but it primarily will be pistols will be sought by untrained suburban know-nothings.  (Shotguns are much more effective!)  So if you are buying for barter, buy large caliber (.40 S&W or .45 ACP) used Glocks, SIGs, or Berettas, and/or American-made (preferably Colt) stainless steel auto pistols. If you are buying with the intent of being able to arm your neighbors for mutual defense, then buy used Remington or Mossberg 12 gauge riotguns.

--You have highly recommended the .308 Winchester caliber for the MBR but what exact specifications [of ammunition] (manufacturer, grain, FMJ/JHP) do you suggest we purchase?

For self defense, I recommend that you buy 80% full metal jacket ("ball") ammunition, 10% match, and 10% pointed soft point soft nose. For barter, buy mainly hollow point common caliber pistol ammunition and .22 Long Rifle rimfire ammunition--again, hollow points.

6.) I have been considering purchasing a Springfield SAR-8 rifle chambered in .308.
A.) What is your opinion on the SAR-8 as a MBR?

The SAR-8 (Springfield Armory's clone of the HK91) are well made (much better than the CETME).  Their only serious shortcoming is that they lack a flash hider. Be advised that if you replace the original pseudo flash hider with a real one, that it must be a U.S.-made part, since the 1989 ban (still in effect) requires that the rifle retain 10 U.S. made parts.

If you can afford it, buy an original HK91 rather than a SAR-8.  Magazines (they both use the same type) are currently cheap and plentiful, so buy a pile of them.  (Something like 50+ of the West German alloy magazines. They can be had for as little as $2.50 each from mail order firms like Cheaper Than Dirt.)

B.) The iron sights on this weapon do not have tritium; do you suggest I have it installed? Or have a scope mounted?

I'd recommend that you get  a tritium-lit scope (preferably a Trijicon brand) on a quick-detachable claw mount. Tritium iron sights are available for the HK91/SAR-8 but they would be redundant to a tritium-lit scope. If you decide to NOT get a scope, then it is worth the money to buy tritium element sights.

3.) What type and brand of scopes do you like? 

For purely long range work, most of the Leupold or Nikon mil-dot scopes are excellent.  For the best "all around" scope, I prefer the Trijicon AGOGs.

7.) I am planning on purchasing a quantity of gold; do you recommend bullion or gold coins? - Dr Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

IMO, bullion gold (bars) are only for the super-wealthy.  Because it requires assay before resale, I don't consider bullion gold appropriate for most survivalists. As previously stated in my SurvivalBlog writings and in my novel Patriots, gold is too compact a form of wealth for barter purposes.  Buy one $1,000 face value bag of 90% (pre-1965) silver dimes or quarters for each family member for barter before you move on to buying gold. Then buy your gold in the form of 1 ounce Krugerrands or Canadian Maple Leafs, since those have the lowest premium (dealer's profit, per coin.) Avoid the Chinese Pandas.  There are far too many of those being counterfeited! For our readers overseas, buy whatever coins are the most recognizable locally. (e.g. Australian Koalas, British Sovereigns, Swiss Vrenellis, et cetera.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Last night on the National Geographic Channel there were two shows [that were aired] back to back that were of interest to anyone in the survival community.

1. Avian Flu Pandemic detailed the history of the bug and the 1997 outbreak in Hong Kong. It showed the spread across Southeast Asia and the methods that are being used to control the spread. Discussed the use of Tamaflu as a treatment and how most governments are reluctant to stockpile it until there is an obvious need. A World Health Organization scientist stated that when such a pandemic does occur it will be too late to stockpile an the only way to survive will be to stay home and take care of your own family. Stated that we will be reduced to the basic human unit "the family". Also talked about a case that is believed to be human to human transmission. This case was believed to be transmitted to a family member in close contact with a sick girl who had caught the virus while playing near diseased chickens. This girl's aunt survived the disease, but the girl did not. Also stated that a problem with developing a vaccine for humans is that since [fertile] eggs are used to grow flu virus for vaccine production the eggs are killed by the virus when it is injected into the eggs. The eggs are vulnerable to the virus just as the chickens are.

2.The other program was on Biological Terrorist Attack. This program went through the list of the Center for Disease Control's top six dirty bugs of germ warfare. Very eye opening and very chilling.

Anyway, all this spiked my interest so this morning I went to the National Geographic web site and was looking for more information about Bird Flu. I found a link on the news page to two stories on bird flue that should interest everyone.

1. Bird flu vaccine helps stop the spread of the disease in chickens.

2.Bird flu fears cause spike in the sale of Star Anise Spice.
This spice is used in the manufacture of Tamaflu according to this article and people in Asia and the U. S. are buying it as a herbal medicine for use against the

The link is: (Scroll down to "Health")

OBTW, scroll on down to: Pulse of the Planet. See the article titled: Southwest Rodent Boom to Cause Deadly Hantavirus Outbreak

The article says that in roughly one year to eighteen months after a wet winter as we had in the southwest in 2005 causes a boom in rodent population and so more contact between deceased mice and humans increasing the cases of the disease among humans. Stated that the summer of 2005 already showed a rise in the reported number of cases. Thirty-six percent of human cases are fatal. This should start us all thinking more about rodent control around our stored food, et cetera.

Thanks again for all of your great work in providing this site and for all the very much needed information that is shared by everyone here. Count on a donation from me to help with the blog's cost in the very near future. Long Life, - Overhill

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Dear James,
Regarding the naysayers about Nanomasks, I would like to comment that for most of us price is an issue in practical preps for any disaster. The company openly acknowledges that after 48 hours due to the moisture buildup you should change the filter. But two masks and 25 filters cost less than 50 bucks, so that is a fifty bucks for fifty days. Filters are cheap.
The N95s with exhalation valves cost over four bucks at WalMart for two, and over five at Home Depot for two, so you need to wear each one also for two to three days to pay a dollar a day to filter air.
Would anybody want to wear an N95 longer than one day? The virus lives on soft material for at least another day and you can't clean it. The Nanomask in contrast is hard plastic and you can wipe down the edges that touch your face, or dip the whole thing in weak bleach before you put in a new filter. An N95 walking through the store is one thing, but if you had direct contact with a very sick family member, why not pay the same price for two days with a nanomask that you'd pay for two days with an exhalation N95?
The airtight seal and the maker's claimed filtering capacity is such a major difference, for such a potentially fatal disease, that I can't see any reason not to try and get an airtight nanomask. - Lyn

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I was looking at the Texas State Department of Health and Human Services home page this morning and saw a link to their state plan for a flu pandemic. I thought our fellow readers might like to take a look. Probably would be a good idea for us all to see what each of our states have in mind for us. Here is the URL:

Long Life, - "Overhill"

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Mr. Rawles:

Regarding the by another SurvivalBlog reader that mentioned that she had purchased Nano mask:  They have major flaw, so I'd rather choose [a full mask with] 95 filters: The Nano mask offers NO EYE PROTECTION. Think about it, if it can get into your mouth or nose, it'll get into your eyes too.

Secondly, [swimming] pool grade diatomaceous earth will work too, contrary to what the website says. (I used to own a pool building business for nine years.. - Tamryn

JWR Replies:  I agree with both of your points. There are differences between natural diatomaceous earth  and the heat-treated (calcined) diatomaceous earth that is used for swimming pool filtration. Swimming pool diatomaceous earth can have a higher crystalline silica content (about 60%) and could be dangerous if taken internally. But it is still fine fro virtually all of the other typical uses--and the markup per pound can be 1000% higher for "store bought" diatomaceous earth. Any other touted difference consists primarily of packaging, marketing, and a bigger mark-up.So I recommend that you buy just a small quantity of "food grade" diatomaceous earth, and a much larger supply of typical swimming pool diatomaceous earth for killing pests and for water filtration. OBTW, diatomaceous earth has 101 uses around the house:  You can uses it to kill insects as a non-toxic alternative to poisons, in water filtration, hydroponics, to dust your chickens for mites, et cetera.


Letter Re: "Nano Masks"  (SAs: Asian Avian Flu, Protective Masks)

Hello Jim,
I saw the post on the blog about the Nano Mask and had to write in to offer some concerns about this system for LONG-TERM usage during an Avian Flu outbreak.

First, as their own web site discloses, if the Nano Mask filtered anything smaller than .027 microns then you would not be able to breath through it as the filter pores would be too small to handle the air flow of our inhalations. So, what they are telling us is that this “nano” filter media ultra-fine filter. Keep that in mind as I discuss the concerns I have…

Nano-Mask concern #1:
The Nano-Mask does not have an EXHALATION VALVE! This means, as their web site confirms, that both air coming IN (inhalation) and air going OUT (exhalation) are both equally filtered through the nano filter media. Unless I have someone in my household that has a weakened immune system, why on earth would I want to FILTER the air coming out of my lungs? Moreover, if properly prepared for a flu pandemic, my home would be a “CLEAN” area where the donning of protective masks would not be needed. Therefore, the only time I will need respiratory protection is when I go out where public contact may or will be expected, so why, again, would I want to filter my exhalations? This makes no sense for “survivalist-type” scenarios…

Nano-Mask concern #2:
MOISTURE!!! Since the nano mask has no exhalation valve and filters both inhalations and exhalations, all that hot, moist air I am exhaling is now DIRECTLY IMPACTING the nano filter media. Add in heavy breathing from physical exertion or stress and you are talking about a huge moisture problem! Unless specifically designed to do so, such as a water filter, moisture DESTROYS a filters ability to operate properly by CLOGGING the filter media with water. Gas mask filters are a great example! There is not a gas mask filter anywhere that I know of that works properly when WET, which is why ALL quality gas masks have EXHALATION VALVES. Think about that!

Nano-Mask concern #3:
SMALL FILTER MEDIA! Take a look at the Nano Mask replaceable filter media; it is a small triangular patch that mounts on a mask assembly. Since the Nano Mask does DOUBLE DUTY by filtering air coming in and air going out, this ultra-fine filter media will CLOG UP at least TWICE AS FAST as a comparable mask with an exhalation valve. Add in the moisture variable from your exhalations upon a small filter media and you have serious EFFECTIVE FILTER LIFESPAN issues!

In conclusion, the Nano filter technology is very promising, but let us keep in mind that the H5N1 virus is not like a “weapons-grade” biological agent as it always needs a CARRIER, such as water droplets (spit, tears, mucous or phlegm) or airborne dust where these water droplets attach themselves. This small virus IS NOT just floating around in the air by itself! Since this small virus, just like the common flu, is always attached to a LARGER PARTICLE, the CDC and WHO are justified in promoting N95 filters as effective protection from the H5N1 virus. Lets be real; does anyone really think the CDC and WHO would send in their staff, researchers, nurses and doctors into an H5N1 hot zone without EFFECTIVE protection? THEY are the ones who know the threat, not a company trying to market their masks to a fearful public with misleading information and a questionable product for the intended application.

I think your readers should be aware of the DOWNSIDE to the Nano-Mask as very few think and analyze the LONG-TERM feasibility of a protection product. I personally am recommending to friends and family, similar to the CDC and WHO, any N95 or N100/P100 mask with an EXHALTION VALVE (I like the 3M 9211 N95 mask) combined with lab-quality, shielded eye protection. In a truly contaminated environment (hospital during pandemic), I would not consider myself safe unless I was wearing full-face protection (eyes, nose, mouth) with HEPA filtration that a good quality military gas mask would provide (I like the Canadian C4 or Scott M95). Then comes DECON.   Baruch HaShem Yahweh, - Robert

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hi Jim:
Great to see young new people trying to start practical preparations. One cup of FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth per five gallon bucket will keep the bugs out. All of my stuff is already in nitro packed buckets with oxygen absorbers, but someday we might not be able to get dry ice and O2 absorbers for packing grains, so I just ordered some diatomaceous earth myself. See:

[The other topic that I wanted mention is] "Nano masks." Mine just got shipped to me via UPS. I ordered them a month ago. Far more effective than N-95 [filter]s. See:\ - God bless, Lyn

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hi James,
I thought this was a significant news article. See:,2106,3483521a13,00.html   I assume our banks are making similar plans to the New Zealanders. God Bless, - Lyn

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Seems to me you would need quite a large herd of miniature goats to have chevron throughout the year using minis considering three meals per butchered animal, once a week = 52 goats just for butchering which means at least 26 females producing twins once a year plus being sure you have two bucks for service those females, plus enough browse for them to thrive on. Seems to me you would be much better off having two to three full size meat goat does to produce 4-6 butcher goats at (depending on the breed) 50-100 pounds of meat per animal. Can it, dry it, salt it, smoke it - 200 to 600 pounds of meat properly preserved should last you for the year. I'm sure you know to butcher in the cool fall weather NOT in spring or summer. This avoid avoids flies, contamination by bacteria, etc caused by warm/hot weather and believe me meat cuts a LOT easier when its VERY cold if not half frozen - doesn't skitter around and mush out of the way of the knife when you are trying to slice steaks or even sized chunks for stew. Best, - The Goatlady

The Memsahib Replies:  Dear Goatlady, Thank you for writing. Most goats do come into season only in the Fall, but African pygmy goats are very unusual in that they ovulate all year round. They also have a strong tendency toward kidding triplets and quadruplets. The large herd of miniature animals is a benefit in my eyes because you spread your risk.  A loss of one goat from a flock of three could be devastating, but not that bad from a flock of 25. Also you will have have extra animals you can give to neighbors to start their own flocks. I don't mind butchering little animals frequently.  Once you've done it a time or two you develop a routine and it is a snap. I already do this with chickens, rabbits, and ducks. But to each her own. And I completely agree with butchering large animals in the Fall.  That is the only way to go.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Just wanted to really is not too hard to can meat with a pressure cooker. If you stock up now on mason jars and a good pressure cooker ( get an extra gasket) you can raise elephants for meat! Just have a feast for all the neighbors and can the rest. It is nice to have little jars of cooked meat around to dump over rice or throw into a stew. Frankly, it's easier IMO than plucking or skinning family size animal meals every day, to just cut up one big one and can all day, and then relax for a month. - Lyn

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The looming spectre of Asian Avian Flu really has me bummed, because I am a big fan of free range poultry. Free range poultry are able to forage for much of their own food from Spring through Fall. Another big advantage is that chickens come in single family serving size. Meaning my family can eat a whole chicken for dinner and there are not a lot of leftovers to worry about. Chickens are a great way of storing family serving sized protein "on the hoof" as it were. But, free range is out of the question for me now. See my post on Tuesday, October 25, 2005. Okay, so instead of free range poultry, say you raise lambs. If you butcher one of your lambs you get lots and lots and lots of meat for future meals. Which is all fine and dandy... until the power goes out. Then all those chops in your chest freezer are in jeopardy. And it doesn't have to be the power grid that goes down. I'm reminded of a sad tale: A contractor working in our home while we were on vacation UNPLUGGED our chest freezer so that he could use the outlet for his power tools. He forgot to plug the chest freezer power cord back in! We didn't discover this until after we returned and found that all our elk and venison--about 400 pounds--had spoiled. So you ask "How about rabbits?" They don't get Asian Avian Flu. They come in family serving size. You can store the meat on the hoof and just them butcher as needed. The drawback is that because rabbits are fantastic diggers, free range does not work very well. Therefore they have to be penned, and you have to provide ALL of their food.

So here is my crazy thought: Replace my free range chicken flock with a flock miniature goats! During Spring, Summer, and Fall goats can forage for their own food (unlike rabbits) . Pygmy and dwarf goats weigh about 2 pounds at birth. Miniature does can breed throughout the year, so if I let the buck and does breed at will, I ought to have a ready supply of family serving sized "chevron" throughout the year. They will be protein food storage on the hoof. Like the chickens they'll have to be penned up every night to keep them safe from predators. They will also need special field fencing to keep them from escaping our pastures.

The real drawback with this plan is the Cute Factor. Little bucklings are 100 times cuter than any chicken. Our #2 Son is especially susceptible to the Cute Factor. With that in mind, my DH and I are going be more circumspect with the butchering to make certain that our younger children don't associate dinner with those cute little bucklings cavorting out in the pasture!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mr. Rawles:
All the talk about snares and traps and hunting... You'd better inform people about the proper precautions concerning RABIES in wild game. - Tamara

JWR Replies: Yes, you are right. There are risks involved with hunting and trapping. But there are also risks involved with walking down a city street, or buying potato salad at your local delicatessen, or picking berries in bear country. As with anything else in life you need to weigh cost/benefit ratios, and learn to take appropriate precautions.

Here are some basic precautions about hunting, trapping, and handling raw meat: 

Always wash your hands very thoroughly after gutting, skinning, butchering, or otherwise handling any raw meat--store bought, home raised, or taken in the field. Never touch your hands to your mouth, eyes, or nose until after that washing.

Use great care not to cut yourself or your helper(s) while handling raw meat.

Use separate, designated, and preferably color coded cutting boards for meat versus all fruits, vegetables, and other foods.

Be careful not to pick up ticks from wild game.  I carry an aerosol can of "Off" insect repellent whenever I hunt. I spray my arms and legs before reaching down to bleed out a deer or elk.  Then right after that, I spray the entire carcass thoroughly and wait a full ten minutes before dragging it about 20 feet and then gutting it out.  (BTW, I've found that that same ten minutes is a good chance to sit down and thank God for His blessings.) Lyme disease is widespread. Odds are that deer ticks and brush ticks will be carrying it.

Don't trap skunks for food unless you are absolutely desperate or starving. Rabies is endemic in both striped and spotted North American skunk populations.

Tularemia is is endemic in wild rabbits. The old sayings about inspecting rabbit livers for abnormalities is just an Old Wives' Tale.  (It is not a reliable indicator of Tularemia infection.) However, if you do see white cyst-like spots on a rabbit liver, then the rabbit is almost certainly infected, and and should be discarded.

Cook all meat--regardless of its source--very thoroughly. And then be careful not to cut the cooked meat with the same dirty knife that you used before cooking.

Never hunt any animal that its not acting alert and lively. If  you find that an animal that you've shoot looks like it is in poor health, leave it lay for the scavengers.

A little common sense goes a long way. (OBTW, the encyclopedia references above are courtesy of  Wikipedia.)

Saturday, November 5, 2005

The Times of London reports that planners in the British Government are anticipating shutting down or curtailing traffic on their Underground system, and detailing dedicated security for health care workers, in the event of an influenza pandemic. See: Just some food for thought and ground for further research (FFTAGFFR.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Mr. Rawles:
Today one of the honchos at [name deleted], a major east coast Medical Center where my wife works told her that a epidemiology research group has finished a modeling study that predicts, based on the mutation rate of the Avian Flu, that sometime within 18 months it will become transferable in human-to-human contact. (Whereas now it goes only from birds to humans.) - "Mr. Not For Attribution"

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

One our readers recommended the documentary: The Next Plague, about the Asian Avian Flu threat. This show is currently in the repeat cycle on The History Channel. It features interviews with WHO officials and Dr. Michael Osterholm. You are probably already familiar with many of the details contained therein, but if noting else, it serves as media substantiation that the Asian Avian Flu threat is real.(Just in case you have any friends/neighbors/relatives that won't believe what you say until they "see it on television."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hello! I just finished reading Patriots   for a third time - INCREDIBLE book. I'm also a good friend of "Dr. Buckaroo Banzai." I have a master's degree in immunology and teach in a nursing program at a local college. My comments are aimed at the general education of the readership of your blog. The immune system operates largely on the function of T-helper cells. There are two main T-helper varieties. One variety (T-h1) deals with intracellular pathogens (viruses, few bacteria) and the other (T-h2) deals with extra-cellular pathogens (majority of bacteria, protozoa, fungi).  What separates these two groups are the cytokines (chemicals which modulate immune response) that are released. T-h1 cytokines promote immunity to intracellular pathogens AND SUPRESS the function of T-h2 cells. What this means is that the body's response to a viral infection WILL leave the patient more susceptible to a bacterial infection. The opposite is true as well - bacterial infections leave the body less prepared to deal with viral infections. Just thought you'd want some of the background here! Keep up the good work, keep your powder dry, and God bless! - Dr. Rocky J. Squirrel

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I think the pneumovax is a good idea. However, there are simply no data to support your statement that "pneumonia co-infections are the biggest killer associated with the Asian Avian flu." Whether even a single victim of the current H5N1 avian flu in Asia has even developed pneumococcal pneumonia has not been reported. I doubt it. These people appear to be dying too quickly for that to be the problem. I think they are simply dying from viral pneumonia.

In 1918-1919 many flu victims died within 24-48 hours of becoming febrile. Those deaths certainly had nothing to do with pneumococcal pneumonia.

That being said, in ordinary flu epidemics, old and debilitated people do develop secondary bacterial pneumonia after their systems are further weakened by viral pneumonia with the flu. In many cases, these secondary pneumonias are caused by the pneumococcus.
So there is undoubtedly some utility in the pneumococcal vaccine. Remember, it only protects against 23 varieties of a single microorganism, the pneumococcus. As you can gather from its name, though, the pneumococcus is the poster child of bacterial pneumonia, and it certainly can and does kill.

Whether or not there will be a worldwide pandemic of H5N1 avian flu depends only on the virus -- if it has become or will become easily transmissible from human to human, there will be a pandemic, because it is antigenically novel and nobody has much if any immunity to it.

In the final analysis, the scope of the pandemic also depends only on the virus -- on its attack rate and case fatality rate. The attack rate means how many people in a population become infected --105 -- 25% -- 50% -- and the case fatality rate means how many of those people die. An attack rate of about 25% appears likely for a true flu pandemic. Currently the case fatality rate in Asia appears to be about 50%, but I think that is wildly over-estimated, since only the dead and dying are being counted, and there may be many milder cases that are going undiagnosed and unreported. A case-fatality rate of 0.5% to 1% would be typical of a bad flu, and a case fatality rate of 2% or 3% was usual in most communities in 1918-1919. Anything more than that, even 5%, would be devastating. Remember that some isolated communities were more susceptible, and wiped out, in 1918-1919. All the best, - "Dr. Buckaroo Banzai"

JWR Replies: Your point is well taken, Buckaroo. When I saw references to "pneumonia co-infections" I mistakenly assumed that they were mostly pneumococcal pneumonia infections. So I went back and did some more reading. I was mistaken.  Most of the pneumonia deaths were indeed due to H5N1 viral pneumonia--which of course Pneumovax 23 won't prevent.  But I'm glad to hear that you agree that it is a good thing to get a Pneumovax 23 inoculation, nonetheless.

Hi Jim,
Thanks for your excellent site. I read it every day but Sunday and enjoy most every article. However, while I believe it is important to be as prepared as possible for pandemics and every other kind of emergency, I'm convinced that the Avian "Bird" flu is contrived and a needless scare. Bill Sardi, on his excellent website, has numerous excellent articles, all well researched and documented, showing that this crisis is hysteria being fanned by government authorities ( I heartily recommend this site to all your readers. - G.M. in North Carolina

JWR Replies: There may be some exaggeration and hyperbole, but I do believe that the A.A. flu threat is real. Don't count on on anyone in government saving the day.  Make plans to provide for yourself. Make plans to hunker down in self-quarantine for an extended period, preferably in a lightly populated farming region.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

With all of the recent conjecture about the possibility of an Asian Avian flu pandemic, the subject of pneumonia inoculations has come up. (Because pneumonia co-infections are the biggest killer associated with the Asian Avian flu. Most of those cases are viral, but some could be pneumococcal.)  Merck makes a widely used pneumonia vaccination called Pneumovax 23.  It is administered intramuscularly before exposure to pneumococci (streptococcus pneumoniae), and reportedly only rarely has adverse reactions. It will not prevent viral pneumonia, but at least it is effective at preventing 23 strains of pneumococcal pneumonias. The threat of Asian Avian flu mutating into a strain that easily transmissible by humans constitutes a novel threat. In this particular instance, I have come to the conclusion that it is worthwhile to have everyone in my family vaccinated with Pneumovax. [But Jim is always a worst case scenario kinda guy! - The Memsahib.]  I predict that if a readily transmissible strain does break out into a pandemic that there will be a huge rush for the relatively few available doses of Pneumovax. Give it some serious thought and prayer. If you feel convicted to get your family vaccinated, do not hesitate. Do so while Pneumovax is still readily available.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here at the Rawles Ranch the chicken-loving Memsahib couldn't help but be dismayed when her DH suggested the immediate sale of her sizable flock of terribly cute and tame chickens.  So off to the internet in search of answers...

Wild birds can be the carriers of Avian Flu to domestic chickens and turkeys.  Bird flu can be spread from country to country by migratory birds.  Waterfowl can carry avian flu without clinical signs of infection. With that said, how can any government in the world keep the Avian Flu from reaching their shores? To prevent Avian Flu infecting your home poultry flock, your fowl must be protected from coming into contact with the saliva, respiratory secretions and feces of wild birds.  Furthermore you must prevent wild bird saliva, secretions, and feces from contaminating the food and water of your poultry flock, or contaminating your poultry equipment. This means here at the Rawles Ranch, letting the chickens have free range is a thing of the past. We have to redo our chicken housing too.  First, the poultry wire will be replaced with much smaller mesh so that small wild birds can't enter the pens. Next, all parts of the pens will have solid tops so that if wild birds do perch on the top their feces cannot drop into the pen.   

It appears that all humans who contracted Avian Flu had direct contact with live birds.  Transmission occurs when human breathe in droplets of secretions or dried feces of infected birds.  There is no evidence that suggests the virus is transmitted by consuming poultry products.  Reducing your exposure to the birds' secretions make sense.  How about nest boxes with doors to the outside so that you can collect eggs without entering the coop?  How about food hoppers and waterers that can be filled from outside the coop?  (But make sure they are covered and that wild birds can't contaminate them.)  What about keeping the chickens in raised pens and letting their feces drop below into bins with earthworms to compost it ? 

To be frank, not being able to let my chickens free range spoils it for me. I built my flock up to about 30 laying hens, so that I would have plenty of eggs to share. The cost of the extra feed was offset by their ability to free range for grasshoppers and other chicken treats in the pasture.  But if all of the feed has to be store bought, then the feed costs really start adding up in a hurry, not to mention taking up storage space!  So in the end it seems more logical to cut the flock waaaay back to just enough laying hens to provided eggs for family use and to put up more storage food for people instead of chickens.  That's too bad, because I really enjoy the pastoral picture of my contented chicken catching bugs in the barnyard.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jim, I think your estimations on the results of a pandemic are ... incomplete. Say the worst case scenario happens...say 1/3 of the population of the US dies. That is 100-million or so people, out of 300 million or so.We really don't know what segments of the population H5N1 will attack. In Asia, it's attacking the very young mostly but they're also the ones that have the most contact with the infected fowl. The 1918 Spanish Influenza killed mainly young to middle aged, very healthy people, but that was from secondary infection that couldn't be treated (today we have antibiotics that would work on the sequalae of the viral infection). So, we don't know which parts of the population will be most at risk.
The population of the United States reduced to 200 million would be a terrible tragedy. But to put it in perspective, the population of the United States was 200-million in 1965. Since 1965, we've gone to the moon, mapped the human genome, developed technology that I won' bother to repeat. However, life in 1965 wasn't exactly terrible, not like the 'dark ages' that bubonic plague kept Europe in.

Call me an optimist, but should the worst happen I think it would take a relatively short time (less than 50 years) before the economic growth of the US (in particular) regains it's former levels. Climbing a mountain the second time is always easier, since we already know the route. - "Flighter"

JWR Replies: Hmmmm... I thought that I had been intentionally optimistic in my estimate of the potential effects. Imagine a situation where people are panicky because of an outbreak of an easily transmissible flu strain in the United States--even in just one region. Who is going to continue to show up for work? Will the 18 wheelers continue to roll--restocking the grocery stores? (A situation exacerbated by the inevitable panic buying.) Will the fuel tankers still dock at American ports? Will supply trucks be allowed to cross Federally dictated quarantine lines? Will the coal trains continue to arrive at the power plants?

Our economy is a widely distributed web of interdependency. The supply chains are almost ridiculously long. The modern microwave convenience foods oven come immediately to mind. Take for example, a bag of Stouffer's Chicken/Vegetable Stir Fry: Where are each of ingredients grown or raised? (The following is mostly conjecture.) The wheat for the pasta (Kansas?), the Broccoli (California?), the Chicken (Arkansas?), the tomatoes (Chile?), the bell peppers (Texas?), the carrots (Alabama?), the parsley (Oregon?), the water chestnuts (China?) the white long grain rice (Louisiana?), the pineapple and sugar (Hawaii?), the molasses to combine with the sugar to make brown sugar (Tennessee?) the ginger (Japan?) the sesame oil and curry powder (India?), the salt (California?), the apple cider vinegar (Vermont?), the "yeast extract" (a pseudonym for MSG) (Taiwan?), the corn starch (Iowa?) Consider that each food and spice transits many states by truck or train or even across oceans in cargo containers before arriving at the Stouffer Corporation food processing plant in Solon, Ohio. There, they are cooked and flash frozen. OBTW, where is that plastic bag made? And where is the ink on the label made? Then those bags are boxed up in cardboard box that is made in a nearby Ohio town. But wait! The wood pulp that makes the paper for the box comes from trees felled in Washington and milled in Idaho. Then, through a different chain of supply-again transiting umpteen states--the the boxed bags of frozen entrees must be kept continuously frozen until it makes it to your local store freezer case. An optimist would call this a "modern miracle." As a ornery pessimist, I call it a disaster waiting to happen.

With these long chains of supply, I predict that it won't take much to collapse the whole works. Of course, we've never seen something of this magnitude happen to a modern technological society. Our entire society is geared toward driving down costs by choosing the absolute lowest cost components/ingredients, regardless of their place of origin, and then storing as few of them as possible. (The "kan ban" or "just in time" supply system--again to minimize costs.) In the 1930s, more than 20% of the population lived on family farms. Today, 2% of the population feeds the other 98%. And in the 1930s chains of supply were short--the vegetables in the grocery stores mostly came from nearby truck farms.

We have built ourselves a house of cards! Just pray that people keep coming to work out of economic necessity. I agree that the road back to economic recovery following a collapse could potentially be swift, given our level of technology. But if one of the key enabling infrastructures (grid power, telecommunications, or transportation) gets badly broken then our technological sophistication could turn out to be our Achilles' Heel.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I have been studying the implications of a possible Asian Avian Flu pandemic.  In a "worst case" scenario, what would be the long term effects on the economic infrastructure in the event of a 20%, 30%, or 40% de-population of the planet? The only historic parallel that comes immediately to mind is the "Black Death" plague pandemic in Europe. The resultant de-population caused massive labor shortages in subsequent decades. And that of course was in a non-technological and largely agrarian society. What happens to a highly technological, highly interdependent society with extremely long chains of supply?

What are the full implications, both at the societal level, and for each of us, living out in the boonies?  Most SurvivalBlog readers pre-positioned gear or live full time at our retreats.  OBTW, with a tip of the hat to The Mogambo Guru's outrageous acronyms, I call our retreat's storage room: "Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy." (JASBORR)

I recently put on my Prognostication Hat and considered the far reaching implications of a pandemic. With the help of the fine folks over at The Claire Files (our designated discussion forum for SurvivalBlog topics), I came up with a few conclusions. I'd appreciate your comments on factors that I might have overlooked.

Likely Effects: Just the fear of exposure will greatly change the way people interact. I predict that while most lower and middle class families will be forced by circumstances (most notably paycheck dependence and lack of savings) to continue their normal daily routines, upper class families will go into "cocooning mode" (self-quarantine) as much as possible. This effect may last well beyond the period when the pandemic is active in any particular region.

Here are some comments from readers of my pandemic discussion thread at The Claire Files:

"Merlin419" wrote: "The spread of such a disease would not be selective in the loss of population. Some skilled professions would be harder hit than others."

"Merlin419" also later added: "Knowing how to read plans is a plus for some of us. The main thing is to gather as much knowledge as possible. A simple on for your self would be easier to buy but if you want plans on hand check this one out;  looking at things now while still available is one more small step to self survival."

"Bellis" wrote:... if I remember correctly the Black Death in the U.K. killed about one third of the population and led to a change from oversupply of labour to drastic shortages of skilled and unskilled workers.  This led to wage increases as might be expected.  However the employers were not happy, and national price and wage controls were put into place to try to keep wage inflation down.  When this failed restrictions on movement were tried to prevent workers moving to a better position.  None of these lasted long and there was a lot of 'black market' activity in labour - there are also several rags to riches tales from the period.
One other feature was that the more marginal areas of the country became abandoned after the plague died down as the survivors saw better opportunities for themselves and moved on.  Whole villages were deserted - any survivor of a modern plague may just see their neighbourhood die out anyway as the other survivors see a better life elsewhere.
As to the economy, we do indeed live in a much more specialised and mechanised economy than before, with much longer and more complicated supply and delivery chains, and much more centralised production.  This I think will cause major problems during and after any epidemic, and any heavily mechanised industry - whether it be food production, textiles, heavy industry etc could be affected... 
Most people today have specialised in one small part of a much larger manufacturing chain.  Losing any one of those links in the chain will stop the entire process until a new person can be found, assuming that a replacement can be trained at all.  And even if the machines can be kept working, they cannot work around problems like humans can - a skilled worker can take raw materials that are nearly right and do the job anyway, modern machinery has to have exactly the right materials, to very fine tolerances, at exactly the right time or else.  Modern manufacturing is extremely dependent upon things working just so - any disruption to any part of the chain can stop the entire process in its tracks.
Even worse... restarting local production, from what skills and tool base?  Most production is heavily centralised and the tooling and machinery industries geared up to supplying a few very large concerns.  Where are you going to get the new plant and machinery to set up a new flour mill for example, who even knows what one should look like?  How many people are actually skilled workers, and how many are really glorified machine managers - a generation or so ago most would at least have had some idea  or experience of hand tools / production methods, but today? Where do you find your miller, baker etc? God forbid this kind of thing ever happens... living through the epidemic will be bad enough, but the first decade or so afterwards would probably be worse..."

"Bear" wrote: "It's not hard to imagine a situation where enough key people go missing (die, leave, run away, etc..) that complex manufacturing and production systems fail. We could end up living with production systems more like late 19th or early 20th century simply because they are more flexible, if less efficient."

Definitely some FFTAGFFR there! I greatly appreciate their replies. Now, back to some of my own observations:

The biggest losers will be the airlines. Already hurting because of terrorism and more recently from the shock of fuel price increases, the fear of a pandemic may be "the last nail in the coffin" for many airlines.

The continuum of severity for a pandemic will be something like the following (from best case to worst case):

Best Case: Widespread Public Fear, but no significant loss of life.

1% to 5% Loss of Life (mostly overseas), Grid-up. A lengthy economic recession. Minor economic dislocation/readjustment

10% Loss of Life, Grid-up. Major economic dislocation, demographic shifts.

20% Loss of Life, Grid-up. Severe/recurring economic recessions or depressions. Major demographic shifts and involuntary relocation of population.

30% Loss of Life, Grid-down short term. Deep long term economic depression. Major social unrest.

Worst Case: 40% or More Loss of Life, Grid-down long term. Full Scale Economic Collapse. A Second Dark Age


JWR's Predicted Winners and Losers if Grid Up (Mild Pandemic):

Winners Losers
Small charter airlines Large airlines
Home-based businesses Public school attendance & school teachers
Telecommuters Public transportation
Storage food packagers and sellers Theaters
Security-related businesses (Alarm companies, Locksmiths) Church attendance
Mail order businesses Life insurance companies
Home-schooling and curricula suppliers Health insurance companies
DVD& CD mail order sales/rentals Any business dependent of face to face contact
Hand sanitizer manufacturers Traveling salesmen
Antibacterial soap manufacturers Pay phone and vending machine companies
Camping/survival gear manufacturers Gambling industry, casinos, slot machines makers
Electronic banking Large retail chain stores
Shopping/delivery services Sporting events/leagues/venues
Internet service providers Concert venues
Cellular phone companies Convention Centers/Convention Organizers/Promoters

JWR's Predicted Winners and Losers if Long Term, Grid Down, (Severe Pandemic):

Winners Losers
Small family farms Most businesses
Home-based businesses making practical products Most industries
Manual Laborers (due to long term labor shortages) Public schools (likely to never recover)
People with specialized hand craft skills Public transportation (likely to never recover)
People with specialized repair skills Airlines (likely to never recover)
Experts in 19th century technology Church attendance--may re-emerge as small home churches
Second hand stores Life insurance companies (likely to never recover)
Small scale welding and machining shops Health insurance companies
Auto, truck, and tractor mechanics Any large public venue (stadiums, concert halls, casinos, ...)

I'd appreciate your comments and suggestions via e-mail to expand on this topic.

For two successive weekends, I was interviewed by Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute on her shortwave/webcast radio show. The topic of both of these two hour interviews was family preparedness for a potential influenza pandemic. These interviews are available for free download from Republic Radio in a variety of audio streaming formats at:

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hello Jim,
While I am relatively new to the path of self-reliance, I have enjoyed related hobbies all my life, and I must commend you on a stunning website. I have never found a place to have such diverse information so organized and diligently explained. A day does not go by that I do not visit to read your daily posts and often look back and re-read the archives which I glean even more data from.
I am writing because I found that has Sambucol for sale from third-party vendors cheaper than those very same vendors have posted on their web sites. The bottles of the large 7.8 fluid ounce of Sambucol Original from Web Vitamins priced at $13.59 on whilst on their website they are priced at $15.99. After picking up three bottles I have provided the direct link to the product below: -- I hope this can be of use to those stocking up on Black Elderberry essence. I know I'll be planting some elderberry bushes in my garden come winter's thaw! Thanks again and keep up the great work!
- "Dancing Barefoot"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A free online course on pandemics is offered by the University of Albany. They have good intro courses with very helpful information. They are free and work at your own pace. This one is about Flu Pandemics. See:
- Missouri Goat Lady

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Thank you for your survival blog. I've learned much from you and also the folks who write in. Ideas, places to buy things etc. I am writing to let folks know that I found Sambucol at a company I buy vitamins from and the price is $6.99 per bottle. I've placed two orders and both have been filled. Thanks Again, - G.J.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Your link to the Sambucol page recommends 4 tablespoons daily for flu treatment. That equals one-half bottle (4oz./120ml bottle) each day per adult. Say you have 2 adults and 2 grown children, all being treated for symptoms. That equals 2 bottles per day. Readers may want to get right on this. gives free shipping on $50+ orders. They are currently out of stock but promise delivery of Sambucol with two week order fulfillment.

Your article today [Sunday, October 16th] is great. You might want to mention that Sambucol is not a prescription drug--which is one reason that it will probably be gone quickly. Thanks, - Bruce

Read your draft article on Bird Flu protection. Very good! Here is some additional information you might find useful: Beat the Bird Flu Virus and Survive the Pandemic (free download) at: - C.W.

[Some partially off topic links snipped.]

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The emerging threat of the Asian Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern, highly mobile and technological societies to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major Asian 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.

In this article, I will describe how you can protect yourself and your family from the next great pandemic. Although the likelihood of AAV H5N1 mutating into a strain that can easily be transmitted between humans is relatively low, the potential impact if this were to occur would be devastating. The current strain of the virus has a 58% lethality rate for humans. But even if AAV H5N1 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.) Raise Your Immune Resistance

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 will also be posting 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 so called "cytokine storm". While opinion is divided on this issue, I tend toward a strong immune response--particularly if combating a highly virulent illness.

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. If you are overweight, you need to alter your diet get down to within five pounds 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 the stores mentioned above. The sleeves are a buck or so per hundred. Don't cross-contaminate your patients.

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 Asian Avian Flu kill with congestion. Buy a steam-type vaporizer. Stock up on expectorants containing guaifenesin as the 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. The recent public statements by President Bush about considering the use of the military to enforce an Asian Avian flu pandemic quarantine are indicative that government officials are taking the threat seriously. A full scale pandemic that starts taking lives on a grand scale may then reasonably cause you to take some extreme measures 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 Mississippi (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 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. November":

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 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

Proviso from James Wesley, Rawles: I'm not a doctor, and I don't give medical advice. Mention of any medical device, treatment, drug, or food supplement is for educational purposes 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.

Mr. Rawles:
You know when to start worrying, when a Government scientist says "There is no need to panic." The UK government is stockpiling 14.6 million doses of 'Tamiflu' (see the BBC article here:

The question I have, after reading past posts on your site regarding AAV H5N1 flu, is whether there is any consensus on the appropriate medication/prevention supplement to get hold of, before everybody sells out? Especially, if anyone has specific sources in UK.

It may be that the advice from the Government will be to stay at home for an indeterminate length of time for the epidemic to 'blow over', do you have any info as to how long we should plan for, I've read 6 months? I plan to re think our family plans and start further building up of stores. I know it's probably in Patriots but for general info could you remind your readers on long term water storage and the ?one drop of bleach to one pint/litre of water? Thanks, - Bob

JWR Replies: The most effective treatment will probably be Sambucol. (See the preceding article.) With your labyrinthine National Heath Service bureaucracy, I don't know how you would obtain any in the UK. Perhaps through a private doctor. Or perhaps it is available without prescription in England.

Plan on "self quarantine" for a minimum of six months, and possibly as much as three years.

As for disinfecting water, the following advice come from the folks at Captain Tropic's: "Normal household bleach can be used to kill germs in water, but will not kill tuberculosis germs.  Regular household bleach is a solution of 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite and 94.75% inert ingredients.  The bleach I want you to use should be standard household bleach with no extra whiteners, brighteners, or scents of any kind like lemon.  Many manufactures bleach labels state "not fit for human consumption", which is true (Does it need to be said? Ok, don't drink straight bleach!) Now if the only active ingredient in your bleach is Sodium Hypochlorite, it is suitable for water sterilization.  Here's how you do it.  Add 1/2 teaspoon to 5 gallons of water if it is clear (or 8 drops of chlorine bleach to each gallon of clear water) or 1 teaspoon to 5 gallons of water if the water is cloudy.  Allow your water to sit at least 30 minutes.  If water does not have a slight chlorine odor, repeat the dosage and let stand for 15 minutes." 

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Intro From JWR: I've received more than 10 e-mails from folks on three continents about using elderberry extract for treating influenzas. However, I was reluctant to print any of them until now. I guess I was being overly cautious, because in the just past day I got two letters that cited clinical studies rather than hearsay:

Hello Jim,

I've been a believer in the effectiveness of an Israeli-made extract called "Sambucol" for a number of years. My seat-of-the-pants reaction is that it definitely does ward off colds/flu. The following is from the manufacturer:

Effect of Sambucol® on several strains of Influenza virus.
Sambucol®, a standardized extract, is a preparation based on the berries of the Black Elder, used as herbal remedy for influenza virus infections. It contains a potent antiviral compound, AntiVirin® as well as a high amount of three flavonoids (Bronnum-Hansen and Hansen, 1983.) The flavonoids are naturally occurring plant antioxidants.
Laboratory tests:
Sambucol® was shown to reduce hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza virus type A, type B and animal strains from swine and turkeys in cell cultures.
Clinical Study:
A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study was conducted during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the Sambucol® treated group within 2 days. A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the Sambucol® treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group. "Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama", Z. Zakay-Rones et al. J. Alt Compl Med 1995;1:361-369.

Second clinical study on flu
In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Norway, Sambucol® was shown to significantly reduce the duration of the flu by approximately four days. The use of rescue medication (pain relievers, etc.) was significantly less in the group receiving Sambucol® than in the placebo group. "Randomized study on the efficacy and safety of an oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections" Thom Erling & Therje Wollan, J. Int. Med. Res., 2004;32(2):132-140.

Sambucol has been the subject of two double-blind tests, both of which confirmed its efficacy. See:

I can also attest to its ability to stop flu in its tracks from personal experience. It works if one takes it at the first sign of flu symptoms. We also make our own elderberry extract, and it works as well. - D.M.

Another reader sent this useful link from the NIH:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I read A. Microbiologist's comments today on Tamiflu becoming resistant to Avian Flu and I wanted to attach a link from disputing that contention:
Regards, - C.P.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending that along. OBTW, I've had several e-mails from folks with rumored herbal remedies for influenza. Do any SurvivalBlog readers have any clinical data on any efficacious herbal remedies? I'm not looking for "I heard from a friend that..." Rather, I'm looking for concrete double blind test data

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Cipro is an antibiotic, as such it is only useful for bacterial infections. If you developed pneumonia during the course of the flu infection Cipro might be an okay choice. From what I have read most people that die from avian flu are dying from respiratory failure far before they would get pneumonia. Recommending Tamiflu is a better choice but resistant strains to this are emerging, and this is the most common stockpiled drug so more resistance is likely to occur. Relenza is an even better option, but it is much more expensive. I would recommend that all your readers, (and you) read or re-read the pamphlet on influenza you liked to the other day I thought it was very good primer on influenza and its treatment. - A. Microbiologist


Letter Re: Ballistic Protection of Building Materials (SAs: Retreat Security, Retreat Architecture, Ballistic Protection, Ballistic Upgrades, Harder Homes and Gardens)

Jim. I have read every article in your blog since day one. I think a good topic that many readers would appreciate you discussing one day is a comparison of which caliber bullets will penetrate the various materials of which the walls of our homes/retreats may be constructed. For instance, in Florida where I live, the walls of most new construction homes are constructed of one of two types. One is vinyl siding over plywood over wood frame. The other is cement cinder blocks. What do we need to be aware of as far as bullet penetration of the walls from the outside? Also, I assume sand bags placed along the walls would help in a survival situation. If so, which caliber bullets will penetrate sand bags? Thank you so much and God bless you for the great work you are doing. - Joe.

JWR Replies: The U.S. Army has done very extensive tests on terminal ballistics. The following is the latest update to my standard "Harder Homes and Gardens" spiel that I've included in my consulting letters and speeches for many years: Cinder blocks only provide good ballistic penetration if they are filled with concrete. For serious ballistic protection, I recommend any of the following: traditional reinforced masonry buildings, concrete filled foam blocks--also called Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), Earthships (tire houses), "Earthbag" houses, Underground houses with masonry entrances, or monolithic dome homes. A log house with at least 12" diameter logs and concrete chinking also works well, but they are far more vulnerable to fire than masonry. Any of these techniques of course should be supplemented with the steel door and window shutter upgrades described in detail in my novel Patriots. A standard metal roof works fine if your only concern is fire. However, if a house is situated in a canyon or if it is adjacent to much taller buildings where you might be vulnerable to shooters firing downward, then you must plan on either a ballistically reinforced roof (which is heavy and expensive) or build a monolithic dome spec'ed to at least 8" thick shotcrete in the apex, tapering to at least 9" thick in the lower portions of the dome and/or the stem wall (vertical riser wall.) Here is some useful data on ballistic protection from some U.S. Military manuals:



Saturday, October 8, 2005

Several time in recent days I've read references to the Asian Avian Influenza ("A.A. Flu") having a "less than 50% mortality rate." Clinically, perhaps, but not in a real world pandemic! Why? The 50% figure is based on advanced medical treatment. Because A.A. flu is a respiratory disease, therapies that are currently being used to combat the small outbreaks in Asia this will not be available at home. (This includes inhalation therapy, anti-bacterial drugs like Ciprofloxacin ("Cipro")--already in short supply--and ventilators.) Here is a data point for you: There 105,000 ventilators installed at U.S. hospitals, of which at least 70,000 are in use on any given day. In the event of a pandemic, the hospitals will be jammed. Now who, of the 20 million to 200 million patients, is going to get the use of those 35,000 ventilators? And who is going to get any of the few available doses of Cipro?

Think this through folks, and PREPARE! Since most flus are spread by person-to-person contact, be prepared to live in isolation for an extended period of time, preferably in a rural, agricultural, lightly populated region. That means a six month supply of storage food and all of the other requisite logistics. You need to also lay in a supply of antibiotics. Yes, I know that they are useless against the flu itself (which is viral), but they can be used to fight co-infections. Try to get some antibiotics like Cipro for your family, ASAP! (Ask your friendly local doctor.) Again, they are just for co-infections. (Pneumonia often accompanies influenza, and lung congestion can be a killer.)

In closing, if you doubt the seriousness of this emerging threat, then read the World Health Organization's document that describes the propensity of influenza viruses toward antigenic shift: You might also fined the following letters informative...

A reader asked about Avian Influenza (H5N1.) Do public health professionals take it seriously? The answer is very much Yes. Of course we can't predict the future with certainty, and there *is* a certain amount of hype right now -- but, yes, the situation *could* eventually rival the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. At the same time, I must emphasize there is no guarantee that will happen: and we are not there, yet, not by a long shot.
The bottom line is yes, it is *possible* the H5N1 virus could mutate so as to efficiently jump between humans (person-to-person transmission) and cause a Very Bad Situation indeed. Fortunately, although a few instances of person-to-person transmission have already occurred in northern Vietnam, it was not very "efficient" from the viral perspective and has not been sustained.
Still, the just-starting annual influenza season in the Northern Hemisphere will be a time for continued vigilance on H5N1, focused on Asia. Your readers should recognize that there's a lot of attention -- public health surveillance -- directed to this issue right now. I really expect any new sinister abilities by the H5N1 virus will become apparent in SE Asia first. Indonesia in particular is quite worrisome at this moment. (I am quite mindful of the Chinese government's very poor initial reaction to SARS in 2003, but frankly it's at the point where no government could hide serious new developments re: human H5N1 even if they wanted to.) My point is, don't over-react to winter respiratory illness in the rest of the world. We call it "cold and flu season" for a reason!
(In this regard, I must say the current hysteria in some quarters over the Toronto nursing home deaths seems misplaced. I am prepared to be wrong, but having investigated nursing home outbreaks for more than a decade, I know that in respiratory outbreaks in nursing homes People Do Die and sometimes it's not instantly apparent why. I have no inside information -- but so far, from the press reports, the situation really doesn't strike me as all that exceptional. Is it a bad outbreak? Obviously. But nasty nursing home outbreaks happen somewhere every year. Labeling it "mysterious" is true as far as it goes, but not meaningful. The public health folks in Toronto, some of whom I know personally, have reported it's not the most obvious nor most worrisome bugs -- not influenza A of any type, nor Legionella, nor SARS, etc etc -- so my predictions: it's RSV, or parainfluenza, or adenovirus. Sometimes theses things just aren't as easy to diagnose as we'd like.)
Anyhow, back to H5N1: a good technical review article was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine and is currently free on their website: "Current Concepts: Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Infection in Humans," September 29, 2005,

Also, for a doomerish perspective from a professional who has been beating the drum loudly on this topic, read any of the editorials by or news stories on Michael Osterholm, a much-respected former State Epidemiologist from Minnesota. Just "Google" his name. I am not offering any detailed pandemic 'flu advice as requested by the other reader because I don't have anything new or brilliant to offer. In the very worst imaginable situation -- not likely but also not completely impossible IMHO -- your readers *already* should be aware that deep preparations, a chain saw for dropping trees, and a remote location ought to be part of their extended personal options. They are certainly part of mine. If they don't know this already, then they should reconsider why they are bothering to read your blog at all. - "A. Physician"

A. Physician's Letter Update(8 October): As a follow up to my comments: The much-watched Toronto nursing home outbreak turned out to be due to Legionella after all (according to news reports made after I wrote my initial note to you.) Nasty but far from unprecedented. The diagnosis was eventually made from autopsy specimens. I'm guessing that earlier "urine antigen" tests were negative, but those can only diagnose one type of Legionella that accounts for 80-90% of Legionella outbreaks; and Legionella bacteria are difficult to grow via sputum cultures from living patients.

Aloha Jim--
Your Thursday, October 6th reference about the [potential] Avian Flu Pandemic article is a "must read" from page 18 to the end. Included is a specific list of OTC supplies and prescription medications, plus how to care for the ill in your family. These very informative details are predicated on the likelihood that a pandemic would overwhelm professional help/facilities, requiring family members to care for each other. It's a chilling, but should be a required read - B.B. in Hawaii

Friday, October 7, 2005

Trying a little "out of the box" perambulation. I disremember but seem to recall that this was your bailiwick back when. I noticed the President is publicly talking about getting congress to authorize the use of military troops should bird flu, et al occur. It seems to me that particular authority already exists. So I ponder. If he already has the authority, why ask for it again? Is it to make a public statement that he asked, as part of good planning, before it happened and we should be grateful and pleased? Does he know that "massive plague (or a simulation) is going to occur and it's natural (or artificial or simulated) or intentionally created/simulated and want's it to look like he did everything he could? Something just niggles me about his publicly asking for permission. Mayhap I didn't state this clearly but I think you'll get the idea. So..... what's your take and the Memsahib's take (she has a unique perception). - The Army Aviator

JWR Replies: The A.A. Flu "flag" seems to have been run up the pole to test the winds for the prospect of removing the Posse Comitatus statutes. (They had to cite something more far-reaching than just a series of hurricanes.) This prospect is very bad news. If people don't make a major stink about this, then Posse Comitatus may go away with just a whimper. I really doubt that the A.A. Flu is anything but naturally occurring. This bug has been cited in the medical journals as 58% lethal with advanced medical care. Should the worst happen, it is best, methinks, to have some rural isolation, independent water and power, and at least a six month food supply to give this thing time to burn itself out. The full implications of a potential 50% global die-off are staggering.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Hello Jim,
Your readers and contributors include a fair number of medical professionals. With all the hype in the news regarding "the coming pandemic" of Avian Flu, I'd be curious to get their professional take on it. Specifically, do they see it as a real threat and if so, what advice they would have for laymen. Thanks, - Dutch in Wyoming

JWR Replies: I 'm hoping that some of our readers who are medical professionals chime in on this subject. In the interim, Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute kindly provided this article on Asian Avian Flu on her web site. In essence, the great unanswered question is: What are the statistical chances of the Asian Avian Flu mutating to a different strain that could jump to humans? If that percentage chance is 5% or more within the span of a year, then I wouldn't want to be in the life insurance business. If that chance is 10% or more, then it might be wise to accelerate your plans to move to a farm or ranch in a lightly populated region where there is the opportunity to live in self-sufficient isolation. (Assuming of course that this bug will be spread by person to person contact rather than on the winds.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

I heard Dr. Bill Wattenburg on KGO last night talking about the Asian bird flu. I also read the link you gave to the article on WorldNetDaily. Dr. Bill really scared me this time! I am a bit depressed hearing what he said last night. He said that if the virus does make the jump to humans, it will kill half the population of the Earth. I'm not kidding he said that. He said it would be worse than a nuclear bomb going off in the major big cites because everyone would try to flee. Oh my God. I think we'll be living in caves at this rate of Doom and Gloom.
I think if that does happen, the grid will be up with hardly anyone using it. - Fred

JWR Replies: A species-line crossing mutation of the Asian Avian Flu is not likely. (I'd hazard a a guess at less than a 2% chance anytime in the next decade--perhaps some of the doctors who read SurvivalBlog would care to comment) But if Dr. Bill is right--if it does happen, then it would be devastating, possibly plunging the world into a second Dark Age. See my blog archives (including my post on August 8th and the the letter from Nurse "Alma Frances Livengood" that was posted on August 23rd). The latter described which drugs to keep on hand, just in case.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The flu of 1918 killed more people than World War I. The Black Death (bubonic plague) was a leading cause of death during the middle ages. The ban on DDT and the resultant rebound of malaria has caused more death than Stalin and Mao and the Austrian corporal (may their memory and name be erased). History is filled with the tragedy caused by intentional and unintentional microorganism-caused deaths. Plans need to be made for dealing with disease vectors that can carry these microbes. Rodents can carry plague and many other pathogens, cats are good but may carry the pathogen from their prey into your home. Traps and poisons may get domestic animals or children. Mosquitoes may carry malaria and West Nile. Acquire mosquito netting, repellents, and bug lights (low power versions are available even battery powered.) People infected with any type of malaria other than P falciparum most likely can be treated with chloroquine (Aralen) or mefloquine (Lariam). Most people can tolerate these oral drugs. Or you may initially be treated with quinidine (Quinalan, Quinidex, Cardioquin, Duraquin), a related heart medication that also kills malarial parasites. P falciparum drug resistance to chloroquine is widespread, especially in Southeast Asia, South America, and East Africa (the latter spreading westward). Those infected with P falciparum malaria, or if the doctor does not know the specific type of malaria, are likely to be treated with IV quinine (Formula Q). Quinine bitters were initially popularized as a treatment for malaria last century, now quinine has become a prescription only medication in the last few years. The quinine levels in modern tonic water is below therapeutic values. Malaria was a scourge in both the southern and western USA. Wetlands laws have allowed mosquito breeding areas to remain but mass planting of eucalyptus can dry up some swamps.

Fleas, ticks, and lice carry Lyme disease, Bubonic plague and other diseases as well as opening the skin to infection. Pet dips, soaps, and repellents may be considered but watch for reactions or allergies. Massive consumption of garlic has been known to repel these parasites as well as mosquitoes in many humans and animals. Reductions in infrastructure and public health work from natural or man made disasters could cause a return of pestilence to first world nations. Be prepared!

JWR Adds: "David" is the pseudonym of SurvivalBlog's volunteer correspondent in Israel. He is a former EMT, now a rabbinical student. Living in that troubled land gives him a a particularly insightful perspective. I greatly appreciate his posts!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I've mentioned the Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) several times since I launched this blog in August. The risk of mutation of the virus into a form that could be transmitted from person to person (P2P) is relatively small. However, if that were to happen, it would be catastrophic. The folks at WorldNetDaily (one of my daily "must reads") just posted a story that quotes a WHO official that said that a species-jumping P2P mutation of H5N1 could cause a global pandemic that would likely result in "the deaths of "tens of millions". Take the time to read this article, and plan accordingly.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Mr. Rawles-
Thanks for your comments on the avian flu. Just in case you missed it, there is a very interesting article in the Washington Post today about a renowned flu scientist and his thoughts on a possible pandemic. In his words, it is inevitable that one of these strains will mutate into humans and "blow up". FYI, the current H5N1 strain has a 58% mortality rate in humans. Unfortunately registration with the Washington Post is required to view the article, but it is free.
- "Some Call Me Tim"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thanks for the great blog. I have been looking for this information for a long time. Thanks.

In regards to the flu: here is some information from two good sources. The first is from the August 13th issue of the Lancet (major medical journal from the UK):
The Lancet 2005; 366:533-534
H5N1 Influenza Pandemic: Contingency Plans
Kenneth WT Tsang email address a, Philip Eng b, CK Liam c, Young-soo Shim d and Wah K Lam d

The current epidemic of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza, with a mortality of 58%, appears relentless in Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Thailand.1 Although inefficient, there is some evidence of human-to-human transmission for the H5N1 virus.2 A possible catastrophic pandemic could, therefore, emerge should re-assortment of viral antigens occur resulting in a highly infectious strain of H5N1. Influenza pandemics in 1917–18, 1957–58, and 1968–69 have already caused approximately 15, 4, and 0·75 million deaths worldwide, respectively.

A vaccine for H5N1 will not be available in the foreseeable months. Even if pharmaceutical manufacturing begins soon after an outbreak, there would not be a sufficient supply for the countries most in need—ie, the Asian nations. Antiviral drugs are consequently the only specific treatment, pending availability of effective vaccines. These include M2 inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine), which are ineffective against H5N1 in vitro, and the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanamivir).3 The neuraminidase inhibitors reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, and prevent
clinical influenza as post-exposure and seasonal prophylaxis.4 Influenza contingency plans by the WHO and most governments generally advocate detection, isolation, staff protection, and the start of antiviral treatment for patients, and their contacts.5 Many governments, including those of Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea, have already stockpiled, at a very substantial expense, vast quantities of oseltamivir to prepare for an outbreak.5

This next one comes from an ACIP ( Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) publication: Influenza Vaccine Composition
Both the inactivated and live, attenuated vaccines prepared for the 2005--06 season will include A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like, and B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigens. For the A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent A/New York/55/2004 (H3N2) virus, and for the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent B/Jilin/20/2003 virus or B/Jiangsu/10/2003 virus. These viruses will be used because of their growth properties and because they are representative of influenza viruses likely to circulate in the United States during the 2005--06 influenza season. Because circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses are a reassortant of influenza A (H1N1) and (H3N2) viruses, antibody directed against influenza A (H1N1) and influenza (H3N2) vaccine strains provides protection against circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses. Influenza viruses for both the inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines are initially grown in embryonated hens eggs. Thus, both vaccines might contain limited amounts of residual egg protein. For the inactivated vaccine, the vaccine viruses are made noninfectious (i.e., inactivated or killed) (63). Subvirion and purified surface antigen preparations of the inactivated vaccine are available. Manufacturing processes differ by manufacturer. Manufacturers might use different compounds to inactivate influenza viruses and add antibiotics to prevent bacterial contamination. Package inserts should be consulted for additional information.

Hope these are helpful (or at least interesting)! - Nurse Alma Frances Livengood

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A recent article in The Hong Kong Standard points out that if the Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) virus mutates into a strain that could easily be transmitted between humans then it could cause a pandemic that could kill 10 million+ people and hence trigger a global economic Great Depression. Plan accordingly.

While we all hope and pray that a human to human strain of Avian flu doesn't happen, do not forget that the major form of transmission of this disease is between fowl.
Water fowl especially. Since chickens don't fly very far, waterfowl seem to be the primary carriers of this flu from country to country and county to county. What that means is that should it start to spread across your country (wherever that may be) your chicken flock is at risk of getting the stuff themselves unless you plan ahead.

Chicken coops that are enclosed from other birds are a must. The use of 1/4" hardware cloth instead of typical chicken wire is necessary [to prevent small wild bird from entering your poultry pen.] If you are range feeding your chickens you may have no choice but to pen them up away from wild birds droppings. A vaccine for chickens has been developed but I don't know how long it will be before being available to the small "hobby" farmer.

A further note on vaccines: It was reported on CNN that a vaccine had been developed against avian flu for humans. What they aren't telling us is that this vaccine may not even help at all if the avian flu mutates drastically into a form that passes from human to human rapidly. They are hoping that the new vaccine will give just enough immunity to drop the fatality rate from the current 80 percent. A vaccine cannot be made for something that doesn't yet exist! - B.W.

Monday, August 8, 2005

I have an idea for a topic that I would certainly like to get your thoughts on. As you probably know, scientists are nervously watching poultry in Southeast Asia for signs of a new virulent strain of flu. Just today the Guardian published an article on the topic, and how scientists think they can contain the epidemic to 200 people. I am not so confident in their efforts, and would like to hear your thoughts on the topic of how one can prepare for the possibility of a possible flu epidemic. - "T"

JWR's Reply:

Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) is indeed an important topic. Perhaps we have a reader out there who is an epidemiologist lurking out there who can give us some further details. (Hint, hint!) Like you, my main concern regarding the Asian Avian Flu is that the virus could mutate into a strain that could easily be transmitted between humans. That could result in a pandemic worse than the flu pandemic of 1918/1919. (Which killed 20 to 30 million people--far more people than World I did.) For anyone interested, I recommend the books Plagues and Peoples and Plague of Plagues by William H. McNeill. I also recommend the science fiction novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. While it is ostensibly fiction, Crichton manages to weave a lot of non-fiction into the storyline. His succinct description of natural mutation toward non-lethal strains is easily understandable to the layman.

T's letter reminds me: Every forward thinking survivalist should have the ability to hunker down at a retreat in complete isolation for six months or more. With apropos warning signs (and perhaps a few prudent warming shots), this this would ostensibly protect you from a pandemic that is spread by casual human contact. (Typically, unwashed hands and/or spittle.) That means an independent water supply and a six month supply of fuel, food, and so forth.) This approach would of course be of no use if the bug is carried by the winds.

Consider preparing large convincing (official-looking) “Plague Quarantine Area” signs. Place those at the perimeter of your property. Those ought to scare off most looters. Closer in to your retreat/house post large “Warning: Land Mines and Man Traps!” and “Looters will be shot on sight!” signs. For those readers in The Americas, the latter signs should be bilingual. The bottom half of each should read: “!Se prohibe entrar! !Disparamos al intrusos!” Needless to say, post your signs only after it is clear that it is absolute TEOTWAWKI.

OBTW, I'll cover antibiotics storage in an upcoming issue.

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