The Next American Pandemic?

A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a town, state, country or globally. Throughout history there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. More recent pandemics include the HIV pandemic and the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Of immediate concern is a recent increase in Typhoid and Measles, two diseases that were once thought to have been wiped out here in the United States.

The swine flu or H1N1 pandemic of 2009 had a death rate of approximately 125,000 where the seasonal flu, which is NOT considered a pandemic has a death rate of less than 0.1 percent — but still manages to kill 250,000 to 500,000 people globally every year.

Pandemics are easily spread in urban areas, because of their heavily populated nature. A pandemic will infect a large number of people the same way that seasonal flu spreads, mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Therefore it’s very important to understand the way pandemics spread and how to prevent them from infecting you.

Pandemics have different methods of transmission:

  1. Fomite – an object or substance, such as clothing, furniture, or soap, that is capable of transmitting infectious organisms from one individual to another. Depending on the object the virus can remain living for 12-48 hours. An individual can touch something infected then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth and it can enter the mucus membranes.
  2. Droplets – made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. A five-minute conversation with someone can produce over 3000 droplets. A sneeze can produce over 100,000 droplets traveling 200 mph with the ability to make upwards of 150 people sick.
  3. Spores – can form when the droplets dry and become airborne and are inhaled into the lungs.

Preventing Infection

When living in urban areas, you will have contact with people at a very frequent basis. That means your chance of getting infected is higher. These are some tips to help prevent infection:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wear a mask that has a N95 rating or higher (will block 95% of virus/bacteria from inhalation). These masks are generally only effective for 12 hours. If you have facial hair it may not seal properly.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Use bleach wipes to clean anything you use frequently or near your face like a cell phone.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, they provide a pathway for the infection.
  • Practice social distancing by avoiding crowds and close contact with sick people.

Pandemic in effect

When things have gotten to a point where it has officially been labeled a pandemic the government is going to order all public events cancelled and issue an isolation order telling citizens to remain indoors.  Prepare to become self-sufficient for several months; stockpile nonperishable food, water, disinfectants, prescription medication, office supplies, batteries and generators, air-filter masks, cash (small bills), portable gas cookware, entertainment for the kids, and so on.

The average adult needs 1800 calories a day.  This can be accomplished for three months with the following non-perishable items:

20lbs of rice – carbohydrates

3 gallons of canola oil – fat

100 – 6oz cans of tuna fish – protein

If you failed to previously stock pile the above items and have to make a trip for supplies understand that there will be a lot of very scared and desperate people out doing the same thing.  Some of whom are undoubtedly infected with the virus. In addition to all of the previous instructions keep in mind that you may need to fight to get and keep your supplies.  Do what you can to maintain distance from those around you.  Once you return from your supply run wipe everything down with bleach wipes and place it in the sun.  The UV rays will damage the virus DNA killing anything still on the surface.

One of the more difficult missions SEALs perform are reconnaissance/surveillance ops because of the tremendous discipline required.  Little sleep, no movement, no noise, while eating MRE’s (meals ready to eat) and the occasional shit/piss in a container (pack it in pack it out – we were never here). Five days of this and you are absolutely wiped out.  So imagine three months of a similar existence and you will come to understand the concept of mental toughness.  You will also still be alive. 

My crew

Now that you are indoors keep a very close eye on each other. Someone who has been infected may not show symptoms for 3-6 days but they are very contagious. This group you are with is considered the “safety group.”  Until the all clear has been given these should be the ONLY people you interact with.   Anyone outside that group like a next-door neighbor has the ability to infect the group.  Again maintain your isolation and social distancing.

I’m the sick one

If you are sick with flu-like illness, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. If available use antivirals Tamiflu or Relenza (Relenza is likely to be more effective, since Tamiflu more quickly provokes resistance), as well as drugs for nausea, fever, pain, and muscle aches; basic medical supplies like gloves, masks, and a blood pressure monitor would also be prudent. Keep away from others as much as possible to keep from making others sick. If you are sick don’t wear a mask with a valve because it will not filter the infected air you exhale.  Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately.

Sick room

When someone get’s sick it’s important to isolate them from the rest of the group to limit the chance of it spreading any further.  The best thing to do is to choose a corner room that will be a sick room.  Start with a box fan and place it in a window so that it pushes the air out.  This will create a negative pressure room that will pull good air in from the house and push the contaminated air outside.  Next seal all of the other windows and close and tape over the A/C-heater vent.  Finally you will still need to care for the sick so to be able to enter/exit the room while maintaining the isolation you will create a double barrier entry. This can be done by hanging two sets of trash bags or shower curtains from the ceiling above the door. When entering or leaving the room you will travel through only one set at a time.

Protective gear

When you must have contact with the sick make sure you limit your exposure.  Additionally you need to wear a protective suit that can be made from items in the house. Start by putting on long sleeves and long pants. Place a rain poncho or several trash bags over the top.  A shower cap will protect the head and hair and the use of dish gloves will protect the hands.  Last thing is to place a mask on and slowly enter the room.  Again minimize the exposure time and just prior to leaving the room wipe down anything that might have touched the victim with bleach wipes.

Handling the dead

Unfortunately with a disaster as widespread, as this there will be a very high mortality rate.  Morgues will be maxed out and places like ice rinks and refrigerated warehouses will be used for dead body storage. If your sick friend has passed away you are going to have to deal with the body.  A dead body can’t be left to decompose because the bacteria can cause health problems for everyone else.  Wrap the body in plastic and move it to a location far away from you.  Burry the body at least 6’ deep.  Mark the grave sight for possible later identification/services.



Cade Courtley
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor

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