How to prepare for a pandemic


Pandemics and plagues have been ravaging the human species for our entire existence. Until modern times, your were more likely to die from an illness or starvation than anything else.

The 1918 flu pandemic infected 500 million people while the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30-60% of the population in Europe.

We've come a long way in the past hundred years towards combating this scourge.

And then there was COVID-19...

Implications and How to Prepare for Quarantine

Think for a minute about what happens to someone who is thought exposed to a disease like Ebola or Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the US.

All their freedoms and those they were in contact with are immediately taken away from them as they are placed in quarantine.

You cannot opt-out of this, in may cases you are trapped by law and not allowed to do as you will (and likely for good reason if you actually are infected.)

But what's the difference between quarantine and imprisonment? What if you are lumped in with a greater group because of your geographic area, not because of your actual exposure?

Chinese official with a face mask

Consider what situations you would face if your entire town, or city, was placed on lock-down - surrounded by the National Guard, no way to get in or out.

Do you have food? Water? Can you keep you and your family from being exposed during that time?

Personal Protective Equipment List

Donning and doffing PPE diagram

Personal Protective Equipment (otherwise known as PPE) is your first line of defense against microscopic baddies.

There are certain criteria which must be met to make your PPE effective. You must have adequate protection from liquid exposure around your eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and skin.

You will have to be covered up from head-to-toe with material which will not absorb liquids. The areas around your head, wrists, and ankles should have elastic to keep a tight seal.

Virology lab scientists wearing pressurized suits

Lab employees. Notice the pressurized suits to prevent infection.

Before we get into the specific items which will meet these criteria, it's critical to understand that the proper putting-on (donning) and removal (doffing) of PPE is how you prevent exposure. If you don't do it right, you can contaminate and infect yourself and others.

The CDC has a .PDF which explains the proper sequence here. 

Download it. Read it. Read it again.

Save it somewhere safe like an emergency iPad or Kindle. Print it out and keep a paper copy with the PPE


I am not a doctor or a trained medical professional. Use this article for informational or entertainment purposes ONLY. If you are ill or in an area being affected by disease seek medical treatment and advice from a trained professional or from your local government officials immediately.

Each one of these items listed below is a requirement for proper protection against infectious disease exposure.

Google "ebola doctor protective gear" to see for yourself what the the folks on the front lines have to wear.

ebola protective gear

It's really heavy duty stuff - not the usual scrubs you see in the ER.

3M has a fantastic and much-greater list of items and explanations in their FAQ about Ebola here but you can start off easy with the affordable items listed below.

Read the 3M Coronavirus Technical Bulletins here.

You should be able to build each PPE kit for roughly $40 each. Keep in mind though, you may need more than one! If you get exposed while wearing your PPE it will need to be disinfected and some of it may not be able to be reused.

Basic PPE:

  • N95 or KN95 Mask
  • Splash Goggles and or Face Shield
  • Gloves (if being changed after each exposure, otherwise hand washing better)
  • Dupont Coveralls
  • Disposable Aprons
  • Head Covering
  • Disposable Foot Coverings

BTW If you buy anything with the links we provide on this page we might get a small percentage of the sale. For more info click here.

Mira Safety Gas Mask

Gas Masks

Price: Prices Vary

Gas masks offer a huge variety of benefits above and beyond biological contaminants. Read our Ultimate Gas Mask Guide to learn all about them.

3M P100 Disposable Particulate Cup Respirator

3M P100 Disposable Particulate Cup Respirator

Learn about N95 Filters and how the CDC classifies them here (these are technically filters, not respirators.) These offer you good protection against bacteria exposure.

Also there is likely to be all kinds of particulates in the air if there is a fire or collapsed buildings or what have you. These masks will filter out a lot of bad stuff. They won't protect you from smoke or chemical attack so keep your expectations correct, but they are a must have item.

During pandemics, supplies get scarce. You can see if Amazon or eBay has any, otherwise read our article where to find n95 or kn95 masks.

To read more about Respirators and Gas Masks, read this article.


Nitrile Disposable Gloves

Nitrile Disposable Gloves

Typical Price: $20

You'll want gloves to keep bodily fluids off of you and to make sure you don't infect yourself with someone else's problems. Every emergency supply kit should have a few pairs.


Dupont QC127 Tychem QC Coveralls

Dupont QC127 Tychem QC Coveralls

Price: $20

These are for really bad diseases like Ebola. Don't get the white Tyvek kits, they aren't rated for liquids. TYCHEM is liquid repellent and rated for protection against blood and other fluids. 3M's Technical paper on Protective Clothing for the Ebola Virus Disease here. You need to put them on and take them off properly: CDC guidelines for proper technique here.


Dupont Tyvek Apron

Dupont Tyvek Apron

Price: $6
To keep the heaviest contamination off of you in an exceptionally messy environment, it is proper to equip an apron in addition to the coveralls. This gives you extra protection by increasing your allowable exposure time as well as allowing you to see the contaminants more easily which have accumulated on you.


3M Impact / Splash Goggles

3M Impact / Splash Goggles

Price: $18
Pretty great goggles for the price. You can fit a pair of glasses under them also. Good protection from debris along with liquids. Don't go cheap with the goggles, the strap is usually the first thing that goes on them, and these have a sturdy one. The eyes are a very vulnerable to contamination because they are moist and exposed.


Tyvek IsoClean hood

Tyvek IsoClean hood

Price: $6
The Tychem coveralls have hoods on them, which is great, but you will need something a little more protective to keep liquids from entering around the facial area. A hood like this should do the trick by adding an important second layer of protection and reducing points of entry.


Tyvek Boot Covers

Tyvek Boot Covers

Price: $5
Gravity dictates that all liquids want to head to the floor. Ergo, that will likely be the messiest place around. The folks who work in pandemic areas have rubber boots to wear while treating patients but for our concerns we need to cover up the shoes we have on so we don't spread contamination all over the place.


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