man on couch during lockdown

Surviving the Next Deadly Pandemic: The Five Pillars of Pandemic Survival

by Matt Collins

It’s been nearly four years since the COVID-19 coronavirus began to wreak havoc on the world’s population.

The resulting pandemic was a disaster unlike anything we’d seen in over a century. We saw worldwide lockdowns that lasted for months, military-enforced quarantines in China, and a death toll that just kept rising.

To this day, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of that deadly pandemic. But we were also lucky that it didn’t do a fraction of the damage caused by the Spanish Flu back in 1918.

 This was at the end of the First World War, when people and materials were moving around the world at about the same rate they do today. With the first wave of Spanish Flu, the virus spread all over the world. Thriving in so many different environments, a mutated strain suddenly appeared around a year later—killing off millions of otherwise healthy adult men and women.

the Spanish flu

The Spanish Flu filled hospitals all over the world and killed up to 50 million. (Image courtesy of Time)

British military doctors working on autopsies at the time compared the flu’s devastating effects on the lungs to those of chemical warfare–devastating as the mustard gas used in the trenches.

The Spanish Flu ultimately caused an estimated 20-50 million deaths—more total casualties than all the soldiers and civilians killed in World War I combined

COVID-19, by comparison, caused an estimated three million deaths in 2020.

But the threat of another deadly pandemic is ever-present.

As the world population keeps climbing, the potential for exposing and spreading a new deadly contagion—or even a new variant of the coronavirus–is increasing. Indeed, doctors have already identified three new variants of the COVID-19 virus now surging throughout the country.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the Five Pillars of Pandemic Survival…

Table of Contents

  • 01

    Pandemic Aftermath

  • 02

    Pandemic Survival Pillar #1: Economic Freedom

  • 03

    Pandemic Survival Pillar #2: Open-Minded Preparation

  • 04

    Pandemic Survival Pillar #3: Reactive Protocols

  • 05

    Pandemic Survival Pillar #4: Staying Sane

  • 06

    Pandemic Survival Pillar #5: Adjusting & Adapting

  • 07

    Stacking the Odds in Your Favor

Pandemic Aftermath

Just five years ago, the thought of wearing a mask to shop for groceries or walk your dog might have seemed positively insane.

No one, after all, had heard of a “Coronavirus” at the time, and it’s doubtful that many of us were washing our hands for the mandated twenty seconds each time. 

Fast forward to January of 2020, and most people were convinced that the virus would be contained to China—nothing more notable than swine flu or SARS that came before it. Consequently, a few months later, people thought we’d be back out in time for Easter. 

Now we’re nearing the end of 2023, and though the lockdown is over, the threat of COVID still lingers. Of course, people across the world have done a remarkable job at adapting to these new challenges so far.

Man wearing mask outdoors

Masks became mandatory during the last pandemic.  (Image courtesy of USNews )

As always, it’s great to hope for the best… but to plan for survival. With that in mind, today’s post is going to focus on the Five Pillars of Pandemic Survival, and how you can use them to preserve your safety, sanity, finances, and well-being, should another pandemic or quarantine occur.

It starts with the concept of Economic Freedom, or a flexible source of income that goes wherever you go. From freelancing contracts to basic side hustles, there’s something out there for everyone—and now more than ever, it’s critical to be working as much as you can. Not just to ensure your long-term income and build up savings, but to ensure you stay busy if another lockdown goes into effect.

Second, there’s Open-Minded Preparation. This is something we recommend when dealing with practically any emergency, but there’s obviously a more long-term approach to preparation when it involves months of potential quarantine, continued social unrest, and possibly worse. 

Next up is establishing Reactive Protocols for yourself and your family. Yes, believe it or not, wearing masks and washing your hands may only be the beginning. Especially if the situation becomes more complex due to mutations or other compounding factors, it’s important that you’re ready to take more aggressive steps to disinfect, clean, and stay safe.

The fourth and most overlooked pillar of Pandemic Survival? Staying Sane. We all get so absorbed with the new challenges in our environment that it’s often hard to just take a moment and let yourself breathe. But by taking some careful measures to keep yourself in the right mindset, you may well be doing the best possible thing for yourself and your community.

Finally, there’s Adjusting and Adapting for survival in a world that’s rapidly changing due to the pandemic. Like we mentioned above, there was a time not so long ago when no one thought they’d have to wear a mask. So you have to realize that other parts of your life can change too—and they can change fast.

Let’s take a deeper look into each of these concepts to find out what we can do today, and what we can do in the long-term to improve our quality of life, our flexibility, and our financial well-being as we transition out of one of the most challenging disasters of a generation… 

Pandemic Survival Pillar #1: Economic Freedom

One of the hardest-hitting immediate effects of the coronavirus pandemic—and subsequent lockdown—was the devastating toll it took on American employment numbers. 

Looking back, we shouldn’t be surprised. Without anyone leaving their home, the whole service industry immediately ground to a halt. As such, AirBnB owners went from controlling proud little empires to holding the bag on dozens of vacant properties. Even medical professionals working in crowded hospitals were dealing with layoffs due to systemic issues!

While the US Government can’t seem to decide how many millions were forced out of a job during the pandemic, one thing became abundantly clear in the early days of quarantine—having a job where you can work remotely can be a MASSIVE advantage.

After all, during lockdown, anyone who could work via the internet and attend Zoom calls lived their lives relatively uninterrupted. Likewise for anyone with a side hustle they could do from home. Suddenly stuck with nothing but time on their hands, these folks had the opportunity to make a mint while keeping themselves busy.

Person working from home on Zoom

Working from home can provide serious financial freedom in the event of a pandemic. (Image courtesy of Geekwire)

Studies indicate that half of all Americans under thirty-five already have a side hustle, and that one in three Americans rely on that work in order to keep their bills paid. While it’s somewhat distressing to work so hard just to make ends meet, it also means that they have a more diverse base of income. So if the restaurant they worked at closed down, or the doctor didn’t need a receptionist for two months, they still had at least some cash coming in.

With that income, you’ve got economic freedom, and that’s worth its weight in gold when it comes to pandemic survival.

Because while it seems like things are taking a turn for the better, we could soon see another wave—and, in turn, another potential lockdown. So before you have to worry about any of that, consider looking into a secondary source of income like:

  • Starting a Dropshipping Business. This is probably one of the most consistent ways to turn effort and smart work into serious cash. By helping to connect vendors with warehouses full of goods to the buyers who want their product, you can earn a healthy margin with very little investment.

  • Taking Advantage of Your Expertise. Whether by tapping into a skill set from a previous job or just repurposing the skills of your career, there are more opportunities now than ever before to “moonlight” with telecommuting work to bolster your personal income and hedge yourself against an uncertain future.

  • Offering Clever New Products. Setting up shops on sites like Etsy can be another way to turn great ideas into reliable cash flow, but it can take a great deal more luck and creativity than the other alternatives listed above.

Of course, it’s important to note that a popular idea isn’t always a good idea—especially when it comes to making money.

So with that in mind, let’s look at a few side hustles you should absolutely avoid:

  • ANYTHING that seems like a Pyramid Scheme/MLM, since these types of organizations will frequently leave you holding the bag on pricey inventory after forcing you to burn bridges with friends and family. Make no mistake: these schemes are absolutely never worth it for the vast, vast majority of people.

  • Whole New Trades might seem like a good idea–after all, freelance writers have it pretty good, right? In reality, you’re stepping into a whole new industry with nothing to offer and no training to speak of. As such, picking up a new freelance/work-from-home trade can be time-consuming and come with little benefit.

  • Vague “Business” Ideas. We all have that one friend who has seven different “Businesses” listed under their Facebook page. It’s good to be motivated and it’s not bad to be focused on success, but if your side business doesn’t have concrete goals and profitability, then it’s not a business so much as an ego-booster.

Of course, the sky’s the limit. And you might surprise yourself too—often, successful side hustles have their way of becoming profitable careers in their own right.

Pandemic Survival Pillar #2: Open-Minded Preparation

Here at MIRA Safety, we advocate a strategy we like to call “modular preparation” when it comes to getting ready for a disaster… 

Since it’s impossible to know exactly what’s coming (even when we’re already in the middle of a pandemic), we like to recommend stockpiling the most flexible resources first, and branching out based on type and relative utility, tackling each challenge as an individual module along the way.

The first and most important module? Food and water, as always. For any disaster, you’ll want at least two weeks of food and water stocked up and ready to be used. But if you felt more comfortable thinking in terms of months rather than weeks during the quarantine, then you weren’t alone. With a reasonable amount of closet space, you can affordably stock up enough non-perishable foods to feed a family for months.

Stockpile of food

It’s always a good idea to stock up on food and essential supplies.  (Image courtesy of Reddit )

Remember that you’ve got more choices than just expensive MRE rations and dehydrated camping food. Basic canned vegetables, vacuum-sealed grains, and beans can all last an extremely long time in storage.

Another thing that might be a bit more difficult to consider? Going vegan… 

One of the most dangerous points in our supply chain is the meat processing plants, something that became immediately apparent as the pandemic gripped the world. Back then, workers were getting sick, standards were dropping, and meat was getting a bit harder to find on the shelves. So it might not hurt to be ready with some tasty vegetarian recipes.

The next vital “module” is medicine and essentials. Got any subscriptions? Make sure they’re renewed now and try to stock up a few spare months. Stock up on other meds as well, everything from Tylenol to first aid kits will be extremely useful now—and potentially impossible to lay your hands on later. This goes for toilet paper as well as any other personal items you’d rather not risk going without.

Finally, as you probably already know, we recommend getting your hands on as much good protective gear as you can. N95 masks are better than nothing, but by combining one of our standard CBRN masks with a ParticleMax P3 filter, you can get true full-face P3 protection that could stand up to the most serious pathogens—including the next pandemic.

Granted, that kind of setup is quite a bit more expensive than a disposable mask, but it’s also far more flexible and far more effective. If worse comes to worst, after all, you won’t want to go without this kind of protection. We’ve also got our MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT and other useful PPE that could keep you out of harm’s way.

Pandemic Survival Pillar #3: Reactive Protocols

Most people adjusted to a life with face-coverings with relative ease—but what if you’re forced to take things even further?

What if, for example, the rate of spread increases, or worse–what if the virus mutates into something more deadly? There are, after all, a variety of very real scenarios that involve the virus getting worse before it gets any better. So you shouldn’t assume we’re out of the woods just yet, and instead brush up on what it takes to react to a worsening pandemic.

First of all, as always, it’s important to note that we are NOT experts when it comes to bacterial or viral decontamination. That’s the kind of thing that people spend years in school earning a degree just to grasp—but there are a few basic concepts everyone should be keeping in mind.

First is the principle of Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI), which amounts to doing everything you can to reduce your exposure without the need for PPE or medication. Washing your hands and wearing a mask are basic forms of NPI, but a worsening epidemic could require even stricter NPI. That means being ready to stay at home for extended periods (especially if your income sources allow it) or make fundamental changes to your daily routine.

Non-pharmacaeutical intervention

Non-pharmacaeutical intervention can be an easy step to prevent infection in the first place. (Image courtesy of American Camping Association)

So, for example, if your house has a mud room or a guest bathroom that’s close to the front door, start using that as a decontamination stop on your way into the house. While it might not seem like much, even basic NPI can make a world of difference in preventing the spread of illness.

In the case of increasing exposure risk, you can even set up a more comprehensive decontamination station in your garage using a campsite shower and plastic bags. It won’t be perfect, but it’s a great deal better than nothing.

Just remember that the key to decontamination is in NOT removing your PPE before you scrub down. After all, pathogens can stay on the surface of a suit or mask after you take them off, potentially exposing you just as you make it back to safety.

Finally, the best long-term reactive protocol is just to prepare for weeks or even months of potential isolation. Learn to cut your own hair, stock up on jigsaw puzzles while you’ve got the time—whatever it takes to keep you occupied and safe as the pandemic gradually burns itself out.

Pandemic Survival Pillar #4: Staying Sane

As we all learned in the first few months of 2020, isolation and stress can take a surprisingly serious toll on your mental wellbeing. 

Without our social support networks, without the routine of going to the office or going out shopping on the weekend, millions of Americans realized that boredom and frustration can quickly give way to anxiety and depression. Without jobs to define routine or your regular habits to keep things moving, it’s even possible to spiral out of control.

As such, keeping tabs on your own health is always a priority—but doubly so during the long and lonely months of a pandemic.

Whether that means going back to your old hobbies, starting a new one, or just doing a little guided meditation, it’s all extremely important. So while it might seem trivial to drag out an old radio-controlled car while a deadly pandemic is still gripping the nation, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Because in being able to appreciate the little things, to take some time out for ourselves, we’re reminding ourselves why it all matters. That it’s not necessarily going to be the end of the world. 

That’s why it was so great to see people posting new creations, home renovations, or setting new records in their favorite hobby during that first year of the pandemic. Because it meant people were falling back on the things that bring them joy.

So take a second to sit back and ask yourself: is there a hobby that I’ve been neglecting? Some old musical instrument in the attic or a chess set you’ve been meaning to share with someone?

Man playing guitar

Picking up an old hobby like playing guitar is a great way to pass time during a global pandemic. (Image courtesy of Fender)

One final and crucial aspect of staying sane and content during the pandemic is that of mindfulness. That means being mindful of your own emotions, your needs, and how you’re interacting with them. Mindfulness is something you can practice by just journaling your feelings for a few minutes each day, or doing ten minutes of guided meditation with a smartphone app here and there.

We know–it’s hard to concentrate with so much distraction in the news and in the world. But now, more than ever, it’s crucial to be mindful and patient with yourself—and with those around you.

Pandemic Survival Pillar #5: Adjusting & Adapting

This is arguably the hardest aspect to define and prepare for when it comes to enduring a long-term epidemic. But maybe we can start with a story… 

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the US was a paradise for many families. Unprecedented economic growth, personal financial success, and technical innovation conspired to empower an entire generation of middle-class Americans.

With that said, some of the kids–the ones with older parents–often noticed their parents had some… strange behaviors. They didn’t go out as much as other families, for example, and they’d often go out to the garage to find it stocked from floor to ceiling with canned foods, soups, vegetables, and all sorts of other non-perishables.

These kids were the children of the Great Depression survivors. And their parents’ experiences—ranging from poverty to starvation—helped shape them and their beliefs for decades to come.

Survivors of the Great Depression kept the experience with them for the rest of their lives (Image courtesy of Britannica)

In the end, it’s impossible to know what life will throw at you. 

But we’ve already seen the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) when it comes to pandemic survival. 

That means stocking up on PPE more aggressively than you might do otherwise. Likewise when it comes to getting reasonable amounts of food, water, and other supplies while also educating yourself on the basics of decontamination and what might be yet to come.

That sounds stressful, to be sure. But it also means getting a break from your routine. It means cutting yourself some slack and maybe skipping a workout here or there with a bit less guilt. After all, most of us are so accustomed to our routine that it can be difficult to just “go with the flow,” but that’s absolutely what you’ll need to be able to do.

This isn’t just about being ready to make sacrifices, either—but being ready to take advantage of new opportunities and set new milestones for yourself. It’s impossible to imagine what life will throw at you. But as the classic saying goes, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”

Stacking the Odds in Your Favor

As you’ve seen today, surviving the long-term effects of a global pandemic can take a pretty diverse set of skills and resources… 

Economic freedom, however, is the real trump card here. 

Be it through side gigs, freelancing or starting a small business, having the freedom to travel on-demand and work from just about anywhere is a huge advantage that can’t be overlooked in 2023. It can also help ensure you have the money you’ll need to make open-minded preparations and take steps towards reactive protocols.

But just as important as all of that is the simple and sublime concept of patience.

Everyone around you was being taxed to their wits’ end by the coronavirus pandemic. And hey, it’s natural to be a bit on edge. So try to take a step back when you can. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Let things slide, especially with yourself, and you’ll be better off for it.

Pandemic survival is ultimately all about your mindset. About being ready to adapt and overcome. To face whatever comes at you in your own way.

Stay safe! And don’t forget to wash your hands…