By May 22, 2009

How prepared are you for a quarantine?

The H1N1 pig flu got a lot of attention in the media and at the office water cooler. Whether you believe it’s a big deal or not, situations like this are helpful for reflecting on your level of preparedness. It’s like a zombie movie: the chances of facing an undead horde are small, but it triggers the preparedness thought process just the same.

Some cities put up a quarantine to deal with the spread of H1N1. If you were in a disaster area or in a quarantined city, how long could you comfortably stay in your home? To make it easier, let’s assume you have your normal utilities (power, water, etc).

Since the water is still running, the next most important thing is food. Although the US federal government recommends having 72 hours of supplies available, I try to have enough goodies to stay inside for up to two weeks. A quick survey of my pantry reveals twenty-two meals for one person in home-canned food alone. I have several boxes of instant oatmeal, potatoes, and dehydrated milk. With the power still running, it would be easy to cook the canned vegetables I have, and the food I have in the refrigerator is good to go.

Don’t forget your pets — I try to keep a full bin of dog food on hand at all times. The bin holds one 40 pound bag of dog food, which is more than enough to keep my three dogs fed for a two week period. I keep an extra bag in the house most of the time (as I am lazy and don’t like going to the pet store). When the extra bag goes into the bin, I go out and buy two more bags.

If you live in an area with an iffy power grid, it’s quite possible that the increased number of people in their homes will result in brownouts / intentional rolling black outs. I keep several light sources in the house, from battery-powered LED spotlights to hand-crank radios and LED lanterns. The power was out at the house for about five hours a few weeks ago. Even though the LED lantern is of dubious efficiency, some light was better than no light at all. Plus spinning the lantern crank gave me something to do as I sat in the dark with the dogs.

I haven’t decided if burglaries would go up or down during a city-wide quarantine. Up, because people would run out of stuff, down, because who wants to get the damn plague? Regardless, it’s nice to have a firearm or two around the house, something I have covered in spades.

I can hardly survive 72 normal hours with my parents; imagine doing so under duress. You’re going to need something to keep you entertained. It may seem silly, but a bunch of board games or offline reading material might make the difference between taking it easy or going stir crazy. I would probably blog the entire event, but you may want something different. 😉

So, here’s the kicker: what happens if you have company over when the quarantine is imposed? What if friends and family are under-prepared and call you for help? Having “just enough,” especially just to cover the government’s 72-hour suggestion, suddenly becomes “not nearly enough.” Adding even one more person halves the amount of food preps you may have on hand. Taking on two friends with a child might strain even my reserves.

And let’s not even start talking about what would happen if the water cut out or was suspect.

What’s in your house? How well are you suited for a quarantine, and how long could you hold out in your home?

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4 Comments on "How prepared are you for a quarantine?"

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  1. BushPutin says:


    Water: On a well, so I’m good
    Power: I have generator if needed and I usually keep a full tank of gas in the car, so I could siphon the gas if needed…
    Food: I’ll just shoot the fucking pheasants outside or go mole hunting…(though I have plenty of raw materials that last forever to make food)
    Company over: Well…that would be my plan b for food…


  2. Gremlin says:

    Wife is in charge of food and water. I’m in charge of defense.

  3. drfaulken says:

    Gremlin — have you and your wife talked about the inclusion of other people in times of a crisis? I used to think I’d turn people away, but then you might piss someone off that might be able to lend a hand some other way. Then again, you have a stranger / leechy friend or family member bumming your food and oogling the womenfolk (or menfolk, whatever).

    I ask you in particular because your wife is charged with food and water supplies, but you’re in charge of security. Taking in even one more person is both a resource and a safety issue.

  4. NJM says:

    That’s quite the pickle. At present, as I go through my economic transition, I’m actually flying pretty light. I’m looking to remedy this with a gradual transition to high-nutrition storable foods (lentils, etc).

    Water is the big problem – here in Upstate SC, Lake Hartwell has been rendered non-potable (Industrial Dumping does not make special friends). As a result, if the taps become useless, there’d be little natural water to draw from.

    Company? That’d be quite the rub. In thinking about long term plans, I take into account the need to add more people, but I’m unsure how exactly to fit them in to initial reactions – I figured people would join me after things shook out.