Prepping for a Pandemic – How Ready Are You?

What’s the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic? What are the greatest threats we face? Should we bug in or bug out in the event of an outbreak?

Cat Ellis has written Prepping for a Pandemic to give us answers. She’s my guest on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio. Below are highlights of her book and our conversation.


The Herbal Prepper

I’ve interview Cat before, but if you’re not familiar with who she is, here’s some background.


Cat Ellis is a practicing herbalist and dedicated prepper. Her love of herbs began in the 1990s when herbs helped her recover from the flu. Cat now sees clients and teaches herbal medicine through her private practice. She is also a massage therapist, certified in MotherMassage™, and a member of the American Herbalists Guild.

Economic pressures and a desire for greater freedoms sparked Cat’s interest in survivalism and homesteading in 2008. She describes prepping as having “hundreds of practical hobbies,” like gardening, canning, and self-defense. For Cat, being prepared brings both peace of mind and personal satisfaction.

Cat’s love of herbal medicine merged with her love of prepping, resulting in her website, She is the author of Prepper’s Natural Medicine and Prepping for a Pandemic, and her articles have been published in PREPARE magazine.

Cat has also ventured into the world of broadcasting, with two weekly, live, Internet radio shows. Cat hosts her own show, Herbal Prepper Live, on the Prepper Broadcasting Network, as well as cohosting The Medic Shack, on The Survival Circle Radio Network.

Cat Ellis lives on the New England coast with her beekeeper husband and homeschools her children.

If you’ve heard my previous conversations with Cat, you know she gives thorough answers and anticipates questions people may have. Be ready to jot down a few notes as you listen.


Prepping for a Pandemic


Outbreak and Breakdown

This is not light reading. Certain sections of the book are downright frightening. You’ll have nightmares if you read it before bedtime.

Cat’s approach is straightforward with no nonsense. This is a subject that calls for serious contemplation as you decide what you’ll do to be prepared for a pandemic.

The foreword is by another DestinySurvival Radio guest, Tess Pennington, author of The Prepper’s Blueprint.

In Cat’s preface she discusses the interaction she’s had with her audience. It’s what brought the book into being. I appreciate her responsiveness to the needs of the people she serves.

Prepping for a Pandemic is well organized. Before dealing with what she considers to be the seven greatest pandemic threats, Cat describes how she determined her point system of threat levels and the diseases contained in each one.

Chapters describe the diseases and how we can prepare for them. As you might expect, solutions given include natural remedies. Chapters cover…

  • A Learning Moment: 2014’s Deadly Ebola Outbreak
  • Pandemic Preparation 101: Overview, Terminology, General Pandemic Concerns
  • Threat Level I: Influenza, Tuberculosis, & Staphylococcus Aureas
  • Threat Level II: Coronaviruses, Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Threat Level III: Terrorism / Human Error (Smallpox, Plague), the Surprise
  • The Watch List: Diseases Likely to Spread Postdisaster (Measles, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, HIV)
  • Pandemic Preparation 201: Actionable Steps


Definitions – An epidemic is a significant disease outbreak. It’s confined to a certain area, unlike an epidemic, which crosses borders and may travel the world. Not all pandemics are deadly, but there’s certainly the potential.

Ebola – Chapter 1 lays out fascinating background info about the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa. According to Cat, it’s not over yet. It may not be as bad as it was, but we’re not hearing about it.

Information Deficit? – How much can we trust the government and media to tell us what’s going on if a pandemic does break out? Will they sensationalize? Or will they cover up to quell panic?

Cause Question – I asked Cat whether the cause of an outbreak matters. Or is it more important to identify the illness and its proper treatment? The bottom line is, the more information we have, the better.

The Big Boys – Influenza, tuberculosis and MRSA are at the top of the threat list. While the media gets us hyped up about Ebola, they overlook something as common and deadly as influenza.

Viruses, like influenza, are tricky. They mutate frequently, making treating them so difficult. It’s why flu shots aren’t that effective some years.

Tuberculosis is a growing threat because of its increasing resistance to drugs. Plus, a large part of the world’s population has it or has had it.

The prospect of an MRSA outbreak is frightening. This is another drug resistant disease.

Before and After – Some diseases could be the cause of disaster, while some will cause problems in the wake of calamity. Chapter 6 tells us of such ailments to be on the lookout for.

Other Than Antibiotics – During our conversation Cat described a few herbs and essential oils with antimicrobial properties which can be used in place of antibiotics. Some work systemically, while others work locally in or on the body.

Keep it Clean – To protect ourselves and to keep disease from spreading, we must practice good hygiene and cleanliness. It’s necessary now to make preparations for being able to do this. Cat gives plenty of tips to help us.

She discusses Pool Shock (calcium hypochlorate) and substitutions for bleach. It would be a good idea for you and me to make our own soap as well. Being able to disinfect water will be crucial, too. And definitely don’t overlook the need for proper waste disposal.

Stay hydrated – This is critical when we become ill. In the book you’ll find info on that, including oral rehydration therapy.

Hospital Hell – Going to the hospital may not be your best option, since hospitals could be full to overflowing. They may also be sites where violence breaks out.

If the power grid goes down, one of the effects will be the loss of pharmacies and medical facilities. That will make it difficult or impossible to get medications and to test for diseases, including HIV.

Stay or Go? – In the event of a pandemic, you must consider whether and when to bug out. Should you stay in place? Should you practice a self imposed quarantine? Or should you get out of Dodge to avoid trouble?

Action Steps – Though there are plenty of recommendations throughout the book for things you should do, chapter 7 lays out several. I’ll touch on a few.

You’ll find a list of supplies for a pandemic preparedness medical kit.

Be sure to designate someone in your family or group to be the medic. Often it’s problems other than the disease of the pandemic
which need attention. Do you or someone in your group know basics, such as taking a pulse or a blood pressure reading?

Figure out how you’ll do what you can to avoid an outbreak. Here’s one factor to keep in mind. The greater the population density, the greater the risk of illness. People in cities will get sick more readily than those in the country.

You may want to make a home-based business part of your preparedness strategy. Do you have a way to earn income in a time when your family needs to hunker down to avoid getting sick? Can you afford to pay the bills until the outbreak is through?

Cat encourages you and me to work on improving our health right now, especially if there’s a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure. That’s an important step toward preparedness and survival.

Here’s an important benefit to keep in mind about prepping in general. When you’re preparing for one thing, you’re actually preparing for several eventualities. For example, we’ll need food, water and medical supplies regardless of what happens.


A Healthy Shot of Information

Hear my conversation with Cat Ellis by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for January 21, 2016. (Right click to download.)

Do further research by making use of numerous web links throughout Cat’s book and in the resource list in the back. The resource section includes Web sites, organizations, books and magazines.

Get Prepping for a Pandemic by first clicking on its title wherever you see it in this post. Place your order from the page where it’s featured.

This is one book you must have in your survival library. It could save your life. And that’s not hype.

Epidemics and pandemics are hard to predict. They’ve happened before, and they’ll happen again. It’s a matter of when, not if.
Thus, the need to get prepared now.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.