5 Tips for Surviving a Plague

The spread of deadly diseases is a scary and inevitable fact of life. The worst episode in modern times -- the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 -- killed up to 50 million people. More Americans died of the “Spanish flu” than in the battles of World War I.

Although nowhere near as deadly, there have been plenty of health scares since then. They include the swine flu in 1976 and 2009, the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, and the Ebola epidemic of 2014. All of these episodes point to the value of preparing for the worst.

“We can’t sit around and act like lemmings,” says Jay Carafano, a Heritage Foundation national security scholar, and an expert in survival planning. “On the other hand, if we run around like an extra in Outbreak, we won’t serve ourselves or our families very well. Citizens and communities have to take a proactive and constructive role in ensuring their own survival.”

Carafano shares his advice for surviving a plague in his e-book Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror. Below, find his top tips:

Know What To Do Before The Next Plauge Hits.

Gather and assess the accuracy of “risk communications”

You can’t survive a health threat if you don’t realize it exists or don't understand it, but you also can’t trust everything you hear amidst a panic.

Good risk communications have three components: 1) They identify a real danger; 2) they explain the risk simply and clearly; and 3) people know how to act after getting the details. 

Hold community leaders accountable before an emergency to make sure their communications meet those standards. And if a threat emerges, seek information from trusted sources, like a family patriarch or preacher.

Adopt healthy practices