Out of all the possible globe spanning catastrophes that preppers prepare for, far and away one of the most likely to occur is a pandemic. A worldwide outbreak of disease has terrible and far-reaching consequences, and is more than capable of toppling a civilization.
Accounts of pandemics and bygone errors paint a very grim picture indeed, with hundreds of thousands even millions dead and the near total disruption of life as we know it.
Now, everyone living in the 21st century has helped the ghoulish touch of a pandemic, and experienced its effects both great and small. There are no nations and precious few settlements that can say they have not been affected by it.
Most of us were caught unprepared or nearly so, and though it might seem like things are getting back to normal, we should contemplate just how easy we got off in the grand scheme of things.
Now is the time to act in order to be prepared for the next pandemic, one that is very likely to be geometrically worse.
But even with what experience we have now, preparing to radically alter your life in an effort to defeat a threat that you cannot see, smell or hear coming is no easy feat and the stakes are likely to be higher in the future.
In this article we will be sharing with you a list of survival items you should keep on hand in abundance so you’ll be ready for the next pandemic. Remember that it is when, not if, speaking about such things.
The Bare Minimum Might Not Cut It Next Time
Most people think about the same things when preparing for any biological outbreak. These are typical items that are indeed good to have but they are hardly the full battery of goods needed to endure and survive a pandemic.
Items like gloves, masks or respirators, hand sanitizer and more are the essentials, but they alone are not enough to carry you through a long-term event.
When you stop to consider how far reaching and how invasive the effects of a pandemic, are you will begin to learn how any that is worth the name is a true “total systems” event in every sense of the word.
As people button up in their homes trying to stay safe or governments shut down businesses, manufacturing, gatherings and so forth commerce will grind to a halt. That is when things will get really sporty and mass shortages on everything from food to ammunition will take hold very quickly.
What items are left on the market will find themselves firmly in sellers’ market territory, and prices will skyrocket. People who have items in abundance that the rest of the population wants or needs can and will charge whatever they want in order to profit from the lack of supply.
Maybe governments at the local and federal level will crack down on these people, or maybe not. Regardless, if you need it and you don’t have it you will have some tricky decisions to make, and going without might prove directly fatal.
You must be prepared for a pandemic, and the time to prepare is now, not later. We all learned just how bad things can get and how fast, so don’t delay. Now, on to the list.
20 Survival Items to Hoard for the Next Pandemic
Masks are an absolutely essential item for reducing risk during a pandemic, both the risk that you will contract the germ, or the chance that you will spread it to someone else through respiration, coughing or sneezing.
Masks will be one of the first casualties in supply lines whenever a pandemic is declared, or even when it is looming.
But what kind of mask you invest in is going to be essential, and just because a mask is of a particular type does not mean it is suitable for the task at hand or even capable of doing it. Safety theater might make other people feel better, but we want to be safe, not just feel safe.
The best masks are half or full face, ceiling respirators that use high efficiency filtration cartridges to clean the air you breathe. You should consider an N95 rated cartridge to be the absolute minimum, and a much better option is a P100 rated cartridge.
Cloth masks, paper masks, bandanas and so forth are not entirely useless; just nearly useless for preventing the inhalation of contaminated particles. Take no chances, stock up on the good stuff.
Hand sanitizer is another basic pandemic prep, and one you will want to keep on hand in great quantities. Hand sanitizer is your mobile defense against germs: Anytime you should wash your hands during a pandemic, which is frequently, you can utilize hand sanitizer instead of running soap and water.
Not only is this more convenient when a bathroom is not nearby, but it can also reduce your exposure to germs by reducing your contact with surfaces that are touched by an abundance of people.
Hand sanitizer is so cheap and so plentiful in normal times that you might almost be forgiven for not stocking up on it while you can. But you’d be wrong to do that.
Buy it while it is cheap and plentiful, then stack it deep, and make sure you have a couple of smaller bottles that you can refill from a larger source so you always have it with you on the go. Sure, repeated uses get a little harsh on the skin but the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.
Another “front line” essential for pandemic preparedness, disposable gloves in one form or another or a great item to have, especially when you have to head into public and interact with surfaces that everybody has already touched hundreds of times.
Just make sure that you are using them correctly, donning them before entering a suspect environment, and then ditching them once you leave but before you start touching your stuff; you don’t want to track any likely germs back into your vehicle, or back into your home.
There are all sorts of disposable gloves that will do the job, from old fashioned latex to modern high durability nitrile or even rubber gloves.
Whichever ones you get, make sure they fit your hands, stand up to typical use and are easy to don so they fit properly. If they are uncomfortable or too hard to put on you won’t use them and that means they are useless.
There are some chores and situations for which standard disposable gloves are just not going to cut it.
If you are dealing with the regular need to genuinely sanitize or wash down contaminated or suspected goods, furniture, surfaces and so forth, it would be best if you had a dedicated pair or two of heavy duty chemical and biological resistant gloves that can stand up to harsh treatment and chemicals.
Depending on what type of pathogen you are dealing with, these may also be essential for tending to the sick as they might expel copious amounts of bodily fluid and waste that will be a prime vector for germs.
In that case you might be working diligently enough or with potent enough cleansers that your disposable gloves could break down, exposing you. Prevent that by keeping a heavy-duty pair or three handy.
Full Face Shield
When it is time to step up protection beyond what a face mask can provide you’ll want to invest in the full face, wrap-around clear face shields similar to the kind that you see used with power tools or in surgical settings.
These are a necessity if you are dealing with a particularly virulent strain that is responsible for setting this whole sequence in motion. In that case it is better to keep contaminated droplets from touching you at all!
This is also an essential item if you are caring for anyone who is sick inside your home, as you will be interacting with them up close and coughing, sneezing and breathing will be churning out contaminated moisture droplets in great abundance.
You can go cheap on these items if you can get enough of them where you can throw them away periodically but another option is to invest in a higher quality unit that you keep sanitized.
Painter’s Suit / Smocks
Sometimes, protecting just your face during a pandemic is not enough. If things get real bad regarding the contagion or you’re constantly exposed to somebody sick at home, you may very well want full body protection that is disposable or washable in order to cut down on transmission.
Especially if the germ responsible for the pandemic is particularly lethal, it might be time to take no chances. Viable materials options are paper, vinyl or even certain types of synthetic fabric.
By stocking up on disposable painters over suits or genuine surgical smocks you can place one more barrier between yourself and contamination.
This is another item that is commonly used by first responders and in medical settings of all kinds, so your chances of getting these prioritized pieces of gear when the pandemic is actually underway will close in on zero very quickly.
Common, household bleach will quickly become worth its weight in gold during a pandemic. It is vital both for disinfection of surfaces, and also for thorough washing of linens.
Bleach is also useful in a survival context as it has an unparalleled capability to kill germs in water, perhaps a vital capability if society truly starts to fall apart. For your survival stash make sure you are purchasing pure, unscented, non-thickened chlorine bleach.
Bleach is definitely your go-to cleanser for dealing with germs, and it is even better because it is so affordable and so inexpensive, at least right now, and that means you need to stock up way before you think you need it.
Do keep in mind that bleach has a shelf life and will need to be rotated, so you should balance your need to stay prepared against what quantity you are likely to use within a year’s time.
Note that bleach loses efficacy much faster once the seal on a container is broken, exposing the chlorine to air.
Bleach is definitely capable of tackling all your disinfectant needs, but there will be plenty of times that it is too much “pop” for common and simple cleaning tasks.
Many safe, common household cleaners are capable of eliminating germs without any special handling requirements or other risk factors for people and material, so long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
It is definitely in your best interest to have plenty of cleaner (or even better, cleaner concentrate) on hand to handle these lesser chores and conserve your bleach.
Brand largely does not matter, but you will want to investigate and see which types truly live up to their flashy advertising claims.
A few popular ones on the market are little more than glorified soap. If you want legitimate germ-killing capability you’ll need to make sure your chosen brand is up to the task and follow instructions.
Large Plastic Containers and Trays
When a pandemic strikes you’d be wise to follow proper procedure when it comes to reducing the movement of germs inside your home by decontaminating suspected or high risk items before you bring them in. The laborious, detailed, intricate washing with the right chemicals or even total immersion in some cases is the right response to be absolutely sure.
To make this efficient and a little bit easier, it will be helpful if you have a variety of large containers and trays suitable for the task.
A broad, short bin or tray might allow you to wash down multiple durable items like canned goods at one time or even serve as an impromptu basin for standing in when you need to decontaminate.
Other large storage tubs or bins could be just the ticket for dunking larger items or properly holding harsh solutions that don’t belong in the washing machine when it is time to do sheets or clothing.
A typical, garden variety sprayer is a useful thing to have during a pandemic because it will make deploying a fine mist of germ-killing cleaner or other chemicals a simple affair.
It requires no power besides muscle power, has very few parts that can break and is extremely simple to use, making it a powerful tool in your arsenal for decontaminating goods and people alike.
You don’t need to get anything fancy, as the hand-carried and hand-pumped type that carries a gallon to a couple of gallons of solution is more than adequate for most households.
Note, you must purchase a brand new, unused sprayer for this purpose as anyone you already own that has been used to deploy pesticides, weed killer or any other chemical cannot be trusted to do the job safely, especially if you plan on using it on people as an improvised decontamination shower. The risk of chemical contamination is just too high.
Plastic Roll Sheeting
Seasoned peppers already know how useful plastic sheeting can be in all kinds of emergencies, and it is doubly useful during a pandemic.
You can use plastic sheeting as a defensive barrier to a room or to keep an infected family member from spreading germs too far, as a ground cover, as an airlock and also for lining containers that must be used for storage or disposal of contaminated items.
It also comes in very handy for crafting improvised bedpans, toilets and even, regrettably, for enclosing dead bodies. Do not scoff at the latter, as a serious pandemic might well result in coroner services that handle such matters being reduced or even eliminated entirely under the strain.
You must be prepared for all eventualities, even one so unthinkable as that: make sure you get a large roll of heavy duty plastic sheeting that will not tear or rip even under rough handling.
Let it be recorded that no list of essential preps will ever be complete without duct tape. This is not a pithy joke, as duct tape is always useful, even during a pandemic.
You will use your duct tape not only for hanging and joining large swaths of your plastic sheeting mentioned above, but it can also be used to seal your disposable surgical suit, wrist and ankle closures and even to shore up protection around your face shield.
Duct tape is also perfect for rapidly closing any tears or puncture in protective gear until it can be replaced.
I must mention that not all duct tape is created equal, and you will be far better off relying on the more expensive but better performing brands in a situation like this because you will not be worried about adhesive losing its grip or a flimsy backing tearing when you can least afford it.
Spring for the good stuff and keep it on hand, don’t let your significant other or your grubby uncle use it up in the meantime.
Any situation worth prepping for mandates a healthy supply of drinking water ready to go when you need it.
At first glance, it might seem like a pandemic will not mandate a supply of bottled water as much as certain other disasters that are likely to disrupt utilities, but you must keep in mind that the public water works are entirely dependent upon an army of train staff to keep it functional and safe. That army of personnel is likely to be depleted during a pandemic.
You should buy whatever variety of water in whatever size container you prefer, what matters is that you have plenty of it.
Again, while you probably will not be worried about water failing to come out of your faucet when you turn it on, you should still keep extra water on hand for hygiene requirements and other tasks, not just for drinking.
For this purpose, you might choose large containers you can fill with tap water yourself and save the bottled stuff only for hydration.
A food supply is another disaster preparedness staple, and you’ll definitely be able to count on the grocery stores flatlining when it comes to inventory during a pandemic.
Consider that even if they do not, the less time you have to spend around the public during a pandemic the better, and if your pantry, basement and cabinets are all well stocked you can decide to flip the switch and shut yourself off from the world at the instant.
There are two ways to approach a survival food supply. The first is simply to lay in all of the typical ingredients and foodstuffs you buy in great abundance so you can go right on with your usual menu even when the balloon goes up.
The other option is to stock up on survival-specific food supplies that are either long-lasting and highly shelf stable or very adaptable and nutritious, or both. There is room for a two-pronged approach, what matters is that you have it on hand and are certain that you can prepare it under any conditions.
Plates, Utensils, Napkins, etc.
As mentioned above, you should still be able to do dishes normally during a pandemic, if all goes well, but you can further cut down on germ transmission and potential contamination by utilizing disposable plates, utensils and napkins during meal time. This becomes a priority if you are caring for a sick family member in the home.
Instead of hauling certainly contaminated dishes around the home, you can just safely dispose of them in a trash bag or even an improvised bag made from your plastic sheeting and then discard them.
This is far more than just a time-saving measure, as it will save you a considerable amount of labor and also risk. And, not for nothing, you will all have plenty to worry about; alleviating one chore for the cost of just a couple of dollars is money well spent in a time like that.
Electrolyte Replacement Drink/Powder
It stands to reason that any germ bad enough to cause a proper pandemic and the greater situation you find yourself in will have some pretty awful symptoms. Among the most common, and the most dangerous, are severe vomiting and diarrhea.
Aside from being grueling to suffer through they will rapidly deplete the body’s reserves of moisture and electrolytes. This can turn into a life-threatening condition all by itself or easily finish off someone already in a weakened state.
One of the best ways to slow or even prevent this tragic occurrence is to utilize electrolyte replacement fluids, either in ready-to-drink beverages or as powders that you can mix with water yourself.
Assuming someone is not too far gone, or at least bad enough to require an I.V. for proper rehydration and electrolyte replacement, this can do the trick.
Good options are sports drinks, children’s electrolyte replacement formulas and even coconut water, although you should be careful with the first two that they do not contain too much sugar, and cautious with the second option because it has a comparatively short shelf life and extremely high amounts of potassium.
This one should be obvious when you are considering pandemic survival. You should have plenty of all needed medicines and medicines that you will anticipate needing on hand in abundance well prior to the beginning of any pandemic.
Certainly any vital prescription medications for treating existing conditions but also common over the counter meds that can handle a variety of common symptoms.
This is a subject that bears considerable forethought, however. If you require prescription medications for various conditions or existing life-threatening ailments, you will need to coordinate with your doctor in order to acquire an abundance of your usual scripts ahead of time.
This creates another wrinkle because medications have a shelf life just like food, and you definitely don’t want to be wasting expensive medicine. The same is true of over-the-counter medicine as well.
Also keep in mind that you might not be able to even schedule an appointment with your physician depending on how bad the situation is, and even if you can keep in mind that hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices will be hotbeds of infection, so more than most other items on this list take care of your meds situation well before the onset of any pandemic.
Cash is always king in times of trouble, and that certainly counts for pandemics as well as other, more spectacular natural disasters, and SHTF moments.
There is no telling what the government will do when an entire nation is under an emergency order, but you will most likely be able to depend on cash getting you the things you need when you need them, and that includes favors and dire circumstances.
However much cash you want to store is up to you, but you want to make sure you get it early and store it safely, which typically means in a well hidden location inside a secure container. This is vital because credit and debit cards are entirely dependent on an incredibly complex web of information technologies to operate, technologies that are easily offlined in times of trouble.
Not everyone is as smart and well-adjusted as you are, and when people get desperate and scared they get dangerous.
That means you’ll need to provide for your own defense during a pandemic, and the single best way to protect yourself from a lethal or potentially lethal threat posed by another human being is with a firearm.
Most people understand this implicitly, and that’s why you always see ammunition start to dry up at the onset of any disaster or catastrophe- not just pandemics!
If the pandemic goes on long enough, if society is destabilized enough, and if the government is ineffectual enough at calming a terrified populace things might get very bad indeed with roving bands of criminals or just mobs of desperate people resorting to whatever they think they have to in order to get the things they need… or want.
This is a time you’ll want more than a box of 50 shells, so purchase a sizable quantity of ammo that can get you through a major fight and the long haul to follow.
As I have mentioned repeatedly throughout this article, pandemics have a way of grinding every facet of society to a halt, and that includes all centers of manufacturing and the intricate transportation networks that bring those goods to market. It is funny the things you’ll see that dry up seemingly overnight for the duration after a pandemic takes hold.
Everything from your favorite shampoo or bar of soap to your preferred TV dinner or sweet treat. There are all kinds of everyday luxury items that will go missing during a pandemic, and some of them might not come back.
This is a great time to stock up on some of these seemingly unimportant items and put them in reserve as trade goods that you can use to barter with other people to get things you genuinely need in return.
Pandemics are among the most common, longest lasting and difficult to prepare for events that any prepper could face. Unfortunately, they are persistent threats that we can do very, very little to stop, and that means it is up to you to get prepared and stay that way.
When a virulent pathogen starts blazing a path of destruction and death across the world you can get ahead of the game and beat the crowds by shutting yourself off from the world at the first sign of trouble, and doing your best to wait it out. Make sure you stock up on all of the items we shared with you on this list.