How Everyday People Can Prepare For A Pandemic

There are a lot of things you can do to prepare for a pandemic without resorting to becoming a full doomsday prepper like you may have seen on the popular TV series and you dont need to develop extreme bush survival skills to be prepared.

Pandemics are large scale outbreaks of disease that spread around the world and have the potential to kill millions of people. A pandemic level outbreak is considered as something that is certain to happen in the future and it will likely be an Influenza related disease.

There have been many pandemic level disease outbreaks in the past including:

  • The Black Death (1347-1353) - Approx 25 Million dead

  • Spanish Flu (1918-1920) - Approx 17-50 Million dead

  • Asian Flu (1957-1958) - Approx 1-4 Million dead

The only current Pandemic level disease that is affecting the planet is HIV/AIDS which started in the late 1960’s. HIV requires very close contact in order to spread and is now manageable using anti-viral drugs which means it should only be a minor concern for most people.

The new Coronavirus COVID-19 has already satisfied the criteria for being declared a pandemic but even if it doesn’t turn out to be the serious pandemic that some are predicting, it should serve as a timely reminder that a serious pandemic is likely something that you will experience in your lifetime. It is the kind of disease that you can and should prepare for. It spreads easily via human to human contact and has a mortality rate of somewhere between 1-3% which is at least 10 times more deadly than the seasonal Influenza which affects us every year. 


What Can You Do To Prevent Being Infected

Infection is only one of the risk factors associated with a pandemic level disease. There are several measures you can take to avoid infection.


  • Isolation: There are many different levels of isolation that can be practiced.

    • Avoiding physical contact with others

    • Keep away from crowded places

    • Avoid unnecessary travel

    • Don’t allow visitors into your home

    • Stay home until the threat has passed

  • Hygiene: Some measures are everyday practices and others are specific to disease outbreaks.

    • Wash your hands regularly

    • Wear a protective mask in public

    • Use hand sanitiser 

    • Keep your home tidy and free from bugs/fleas

    • Avoid eating in public places

  • Stay Informed: Keep up to date with news on the spread of the disease.

    • Listen to the radio

    • Avoid unreliable information sources


What Other Risks Are Associated With A Pandemic

Mass panic is a very real and dangerous issue. In the past, people have gone as far as killing entire groups of people because they were thought to have had something to do with the outbreak. 

In modern times we are more aware of the real causes of these diseases but panic still ensues and can be more dangerous than the disease itself. This is entirely evident in the panic buying of toilet paper in Australia which was caused by just a few media reports, people were told that all of it was being bought which meant it would run out so they had to buy more or there would be none left and the cycle continued until some people went as far as buying up several years worth and getting into public fights over packets of toilet paper.

Toilet paper is a trivial thing for people to panic about but in the event of a full-scale pandemic  people will do the same thing with much more important items like food and medical supplies and violence will follow when these items become scarce.


What You Can Do To Prepare

Stocking up on certain items with a long shelf life can be done gradually and at minimal cost by adding a small amount to your shopping every week.


Things to consider when stocking up

  • Only stock up on items that you would normally use. There are some exceptions but generally, if you don't need it now you probably won’t need it during a disease outbreak.

  • If you are buying food, make sure it is food that you and your family will eat even if there is no emergency. There is no point stocking up on a bunch of food that will go off eventually, so buy products that you already eat and rotate your stock as you use it.

  • Don’t go overboard. It is very unlikely that you will need 3 years worth of toilet paper and it takes up a lot of space so you can probably put your resources into something more useful.

  • When stocking up on medications it should be noted that expiry dates are generally very conservative and several studies have found that some medications are effective up to 40 years after their expiry date. This does not apply to all medications so make sure you do some research on your particular requirements.

  • Make sure you store food in an easily accessible way so it will get rotated and used weekly, also ensure it is stored in a cool dark place to prevent spoiling.


Food is an important part of preparing to be locked down and isolated from the outside world. Make sure you keep food that is easy to prepare, nutritious and palatable. You should be prepared with enough food to last your family for at least one month. Some examples might include:

  • Rice

  • Pasta

  • Oats

  • Nuts

  • Beans

  • Salt

  • Canned Goods

  • Powdered Milk

  • Protein Powder

  • Soup Packets

  • Asian Noodles

  • Coffee

  • Tea

  • Olive Oil

  • Coconut Oil

  • Popcorn

  • Energy Bars

  • Dried Fruits

  • Peanut Butter

  • Honey

  • Jams

  • Chocolate

  • Lollies

  • Powdered Drinks

  • Herbs & Spices

  • Sugar

  • Sauces

  • Water

  • Freeze Dried Meals

  • Multi-Vitamins

  • Pet Food


Household items are important and there are some that you should keep stocked to help with hygiene and sanitation. You will already have these items at home so it won’t hurt to keep a few extras just in case.

  • Cleaning Chemicals

  • Toiletries

  • Pest Control Products

  • Paper Towel

  • Laundry Detergent

  • Garbage Bags

  • Water Filters

  • Batteries

  • Tools

  • First Aid Kit


Emergency items are things you might not need every day but will be useful in a lot of very common emergencies and it is wise to keep on hand for these kinds of situations. It is likely you will already have a lot of these items around the house.

  • Face Masks

  • Latex Gloves

  • Fire Extinguishers

  • LED Torches & Lanterns

  • Lighters/Matches

  • Portable Gas Stove

  • Battery Powered Radio

  • Board Games/Entertainment

  • Extra Blankets

  • Candles


So as you can see preparing for a pandemic outbreak can be done in a fairly inexpensive way by slowly stocking up over 6-12 months and continuing to rotate your supplies regularly. This combined with basic hygiene practices should be enough to keep you and your family safe throughout a short lockdown period.


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