How To Survive A Plague

Plague Doctor

Most people live their lives not anticipating that they might face a time of major historic change and unrest at some point. Out of all the natural disasters that have the possibility of striking at any moment, nothing can cause quite the unrest and panic like a plague or pandemic. Throughout human history, surviving a plague has been a cause of both major terror, and innovation. 

Since we are currently facing a pandemic of our own, knowing how to survive a plague is a thought that is on everyone’s minds. We are fortunate to live in a time of major medical advancement and have insight from thousands of years of past deadly diseases, so the chances of surviving a major pandemic are much higher.

What Is A Plague?

A major factor in knowing how to survive a plague is knowing exactly what you are dealing with. 

Plague is a term often used interchangeably with the word “pandemic” to reference a disease that is sweeping uncontrollably through the population. 

Past Plagues

History is filled with examples of pandemics that have swept through and decimated populations. Some of the most notable ones include:

  • The Black Plague- The Black Plague, or Bubonic plague was a bacterial disease that swept throughout Europe from 1346-1353 and killed an estimated 200 million people. Bubonic plague still periodically pops up around the world and is easily treated with a course of penicillin.
  • Cholera Pandemic of 1852- For hundreds of years people drank beer or wine because plain water was often deadly. Cholera caused a painful death for many people before Germ Theory was accepted and attention was paid to keeping the water supply uncontaminated.
  • The Russian Flu- The last large pandemic of the 19th century, influenza wiped out over 1 million people worldwide.
  • The Spanish Flu- In 1918 Influenza reared its head again and killed 50 million people.

There have been many other diseases that have ravaged the population. Typhoid, Polio, and Small-pox just to name a few others. 

Stocking Up For A Plague

How To Survive A Plague: Empty Food Shelves

Being prepared to survive a plague or pandemic is about more than just the disease. You need to be ready to face shortages and an overwhelmed medical system. Preparing for the worst before disaster strikes means you can keep a cool head while everyone else is scrambling.

Have Supplies Ready

The shelves in stores are still empty of many products that people were desperate for in the early days of our current Novel Coronavirus pandemic. Don’t be caught by surprise when disaster strikes. While you may not need to have a storeroom, stocking up on a few extra things, like toilet paper, as they go on sale is a precaution everyone should take. 

Keep in mind the supplies you should have on hand at all times. These are important not just for plague survival, but also in the case of a natural disaster like a hurricane, or earthquake.

Essential Supplies

  • Water- In any survival situation water is the most important resource. In a plague where the water supply may be contaminated, or a boil order needs to be instituted, having clean water on hand is vital. You can store jugs of water, or emergency water pouches if storage space is tight.
  • Non-perishable Food- Even with online grocery delivery, there may be a time when that is unavailable to stop the spread of a virus. This makes having non-perishable food such as rice and beans important. Dehydrated fruit, canned goods like tuna, and nuts are all easy to store and acquire. If you want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, emergency provisions are also widely available.
  • Candles- The need for candles during an earthquake or hurricane is obvious. It may seem a little paranoid but in the event of a large scale pandemic that is wiping out massive portions of the population, infrastructure may be affected. In this case, you will need a non-electric source of light. 
  • N95 masks- The importance of face masks has been demonstrated during this most recent pandemic. To keep respiratory droplets contained, and prevent person to person transmission, having these masks on hand is important when trying to survive a plague. 
  • Hand sanitizer- Germ control during an outbreak is extremely important, especially if infrastructure has suffered and there is no way to safely wash your hands. Keeping hand sanitizer on hand at all times will help prevent the spread of germs through unwashed hands. 
  • Gloves- Many microorganisms are spread easily by touch. Having gloves on hand in case of a water shortage, or a lack of hand sanitizer should be a priority.

Medical Supplies

During a plague, a huge amount of pressure is placed on hospitals and medical providers. With this in mind, there are certain medical supplies you should have on hand. Do not try to practice medicine without a license or self diagnose, but do be prepared to be able to treat minor injuries. 

  • Digital Thermometer- You will need to monitor the temperatures of those around you for signs of infection. An infrared digital thermometer is the best option if you can find one. 
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen- Pain relievers should always be on hand. These are also your best options if you require a fever reducer. Fever is the body’s fighting disease, but a fever that gets too high can cause further complications. 
  • Bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment- Accidents won’t stop just because there is a pandemic. Since treatment for basic accidents may be harder to get due to overcrowding in hospitals keeping these supplies on hand is extremely important. All of these are available in a basic first aid kit

Be Ready To Self-Isolate

Self Isolation

The best way to survive a plague is to self-isolate. This means no contact with anyone outside of your home or immediate circle of people you have determined to be safe. 

In the digital age, this seems like it should be easy, however, there are still times we need to leave the house. There are steps you can take before an outbreak to make self-isolation easier for you. 

Learn How to Grow Your Food

How to survive a plague: Grow your own food

If you are already in the midst of a pandemic this may be harder, but it is still doable. Planting a garden not only gives you access to fresh food without having to access a grocery store, or come into contact with a delivery person, it also enables you to be able to store produce. 

Canning produce has seen a resurgence recently, and resources for learning to preserve food are readily available. You can easily find canning supplies as well as books on how to can on sites like Amazon. 

Learn How To Cook

If you are trying to completely isolate yourself, then having food delivered to your door, even with precautions, is not an option. Learning how to cook simple meals decreases your reliance on other people, and decreases the number of people you will come into contact with. 

The less contact people have with each other while a virus is running rampant,  the better everyone’s chance of surviving a plague.

Know Your Options When it Comes to Work

A pandemic has a devastating effect on the economy. Even more so if you are suddenly in a position where you need to be out of work for a long time. Find out your options before disaster hits. Many people have the advantage of being able to work remotely, which allows them to self-isolate easily. 

Those in retail or restaurant work are not as lucky, and many people are unaware of options they have as far as unemployment. Research your rights, so you are not scrambling at the last second, and if possible, have a contingency plan. No one is ever really prepared for a disaster, but you can lessen the negative impact by being educated.

Be Ready To Entertain Yourself

A pandemic isn’t people dying in the streets while cities burn. A lot of a pandemic is just a waiting game. Waiting to find out if there are new treatments. Waiting to find out if rates of transmission are dropping. Waiting for life to get back to normal. 

If you are strictly self-isolating, or just practicing social distancing by limiting contact with people but still leaving the house, the boredom of being unable to get out and see friends, or go to a restaurant combined with the stress of the unknown and fear of catching the disease, can lead to anxiety and depression.

Find something you enjoy doing that will occupy your mind while in isolation. This could be catching up on your reading, walking someplace away from people, or even learning a new skill. 

Build A Community

Trying to survive a plague is a very lonely experience. Staying away from people for the safety of everyone is difficult, humans are designed to be social. 

Before any kind of disaster strikes, learn about the people around you, so you know who needs help, and who you can rely on. Getting through a plague is a community effort, and survival is more likely with everyone working together.

Check On Your Neighbors

This may seem like a strange suggestion when the advice is to isolate for your safety. Getting through a large scale disaster, whether it is something as small as a virus, or as large as a tornado is a community endeavor. 

Shouting from the porch to maintain distance, or contacting your neighbors on the phone to find out if there is anything they need helps strengthen neighborhood ties, and fosters the sense of community that is necessary to get people to work together for the common good. This also makes it more likely that people will check in on you if you need help.

Help Where You Can

Group survival relies on everyone being able to work together, despite the dystopian, every man for himself things we see in disaster movies. The fewer people that contract the disease, the more people will survive. 

You can help by making cloth face masks, which while not as effective as n95’s can still provide some protection. If possible donate time or money to nonprofits that help the people who are most likely to be exposed. 

Follow Guidelines

Things can be confusing during a pandemic, and guidelines are constantly changing. It can be hard to know what to do or what the safest choices are. 

Pay Attention To Changes In Guidelines

Pandemics are caused by new diseases or mutations of common diseases. When this happens out immune systems are unprepared, which is what causes the devastation. It may seem like the experts are constantly changing their minds. 

This is not the case. The reality is that with new diseases they are still learning the processes of the disease and how it functions. In the early days, this can cause confusion about modes of transmission, and the best way to protect against it. 

Don’t Think You’re Immune

There are some diseases that are more prevalent in or more dangerous to certain populations. It is easy to think this means that you are in the clear. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Diseases can mutate and become more deadly the more they spread. 

This puts everyone at risk. You may also have complicated factors that you don’t know about. Even if you survive a plague, there is a chance that you may have spread it to others who are more vulnerable. The best thing you can do is take all the recommended precautions. 

Preparation Is Your Best Defense

The fact that something so small can be so deadly is terrifying. Diseases can be unpredictable and difficult to control, throw in the fact that they can easily mutate as they spread and they’re extra terrifying. The best way to protect yourself during a pandemic is to be prepared. 

Disasters can strike at any time, but a sudden outbreak of disease is something you can be somewhat prepared for. Stockpiling supplies, being ready to isolate, the ability to take care of yourself and a community that looks out for everyone in it will give you the best chance of surviving a plague.