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30 Pandemic Essentials

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Below is a list of 30+ Pandemic Essentials I feel we need in our emergency buckets, boxes, or containers. Here’s the deal: We all keep hearing about the different strains of FLU or MRSA that seem to pop up unexpectedly. Let me explain what I call a Pandemic Flu Outbreak. I wrote this article in 2016, not knowing the world would have a pandemic in 2020. It has been one of my most frequently read posts for years now.

The Pandemic Flu is the virulent human flu that will cause a global outbreak or pandemic of a severe illness. Right now, there is no pandemic flu, but because our bodies might have very little immunity to a massive outbreak, the disease can spread quickly from person to person.

In other words, a pandemic is a global disease. It occurs when new influenza emerges and begins to cause serious illness. The virus passes from person to person and then spreads worldwide.

30 Pandemic Essentials

Influenza Pandemics

Three influenza pandemics occurred in the last century: 1918-19, 1957-58, and 1968-69. Many scientists believe it’s only a matter of time before another occurs.

This is why I feel so strongly about having a Pandemic Essential bucket or container to hold items we’ll need. Most of us have access to first aid kits. When was the last time we checked to see if we had current items or if we were missing some badly needed Motrin or Tylenol for adults and kids?

What are the dates on the medicine containers? How many alternative home remedies are we prepared to make or use? These 30 pandemic essentials are the bare minimum I feel are needed to promote prevention and help if we get sick.

30 Pandemic Essentials We Need:

Large Pandemic Bucket

1. Face Masks (N-95s)

To help stop the dust from an earthquake or severe wind storm, or infections from spreading from person to person when sick people are coughing or sneezing (I store hundreds of these- it’s who I am).

2. Diapers (cloth)

They can be used for many things: cleaning babies, stopping the bleeding from cuts, washing or drying dishes, or adding a scarf for your head. These are the diapers I recommend: Gerber 10-Pack Cloth Diaper Prefold Premium 6-ply with absorbent padding.

3. Cough Medicine, Fever Medications, Prescriptions

As required (stock up on 90 days if possible), Hydrogen Peroxide and rubbing alcohol, Vicks VapoRub. A great product for stitches, besides Butterfly Bandaids. ZipStitch

4. Portable Radio

Hopefully, you have a crank radio or some way to power it to hear what is happening locally if you lose power.

5. Flashlights

Please store extra batteries, or a solar flashlight is even better with a crank; my favorite is the Solar Lantern

6. Manual can opener

This is a must-have for every kit. You might need to open other’s food storage cans besides your own.

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7. Garbage bags and kitchen-size bags

These can be used for trash, body bags, and potty chairs.

8. Cans of juices (bag/cartons)

I put 100% juice in container-ten pouches. I am sure it has some sugar, but I still need it in my bucket.

9. Fluids with Electrolytes

I can also make my own very similar electrolyte solution, but I want one large bottle ready to serve. Drip Drop (see #34 below)

10. Anti-diarrhea medicine

Diarrhea can kill if the person gets too dehydrated. I always look at a child’s lips to see if they are dry and shiny, red, or cracked; these are possible signs that they need water as soon as possible.

11. Paper towels

I only put four rolls of paper towels in the emergency kit. Of course, we can use more, but this container is just an emergency grab container.

12. Toilet paper

This is a must-have in my 30 Pandemic Essentials list! LOL! You can never have too much toilet paper and it’s one of the first items you see missing from grocery stores’ shelves.

13. Thermometer

I put this in the kit, but if someone is sick, we can usually tell if they have a fever. Things become critical when the fever gets over 104 degrees in the morning. Typically, fevers are always higher in the afternoon. I get worried if it’s in the morning; it’s just me. If I can’t break a fever, I will worry. If I can break a fever, I feel the fever isn’t as much of a concern, and the body will fight the virus naturally.

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I”m a mother and grandma; we have a mother’s intuition. If the child is lethargic or sleepy, we know what to do, but if we have zero access to a doctor or antibiotics, I want to be able to think through what I must do to help someone until help arrives.

14. Canned baby formula

We”ll need bottles ready to serve if needed. I feel the need to put some baby formula in my emergency kit. I don’t have any babies around me now, but if I had to feed a newborn baby, I would have something, hopefully, that is nourishing to a baby. You also need to include regular baby food for the old infants.

15. Dog or Cat food

Yep, I am thinking about my beloved Shis-Tzu, Izzy. If you have pets, at least small pets, you can take them with you, along with some cans of pet food for them in your kit.

16. Soap and anti-bacterial soap

I am constantly washing my hands with hand soap. I know this is one more way to keep hands clean and slow the spread of infection. Wash hands..wash hands…wash hands! Hand disinfectants/sanitizer is a must too, along with disinfectant wipes or disinfectant sprays of various types.

17. Cups: lots of cups.

I decided on some small 4-ounce cups because I can put 100 in a small bucket area. This means I’ll have 100 cups for whatever or whoever needs them. We will also need paper plates and utensils.

18. Disposable rubber gloves

You can never have too many disposable gloves, and latex-free gloves are even better when you decide to buy some to add to your stash since some people react to latex.

19. Bleach

Okay, I have to say I need bleach. Some people are against bleach, so I’ll use it to help clean up the sewage backup overflow or whatever I need to kill bacteria. Pool shock works well, too (very concentrated, use carefully).

20. Clear plastic sheeting

(4mil) One hundred feet for setting up an isolation room. One of my readers mentioned adding Mosquito netting (folds up very small) to the kit

21. Duct Tape

Oh my gosh, start talking about Duct Tape; we can use it in a million ways. That’s the link where I share 25 ways to use duct tape.

22. Borax

Great for toilet provisions. It helps clean the potty chair but also put a little in the bottom of the portable toilet to help control the odor.

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23. Clothesline rope and clothespins

We might have a washing/rinsing bucket, but we might need to hang up some wet clothes to dry.

24. Laundry Soap

Let’s be ready to use it for washing our underwear, at the very least. We can wear shirts and shorts or pants several times, but it would be nice to have clean underwear. Try out my homemade laundry soup recipe below, you’ll love it.

5 from 3 votes
First Batch
DIY Laundry Detergent/Soap
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Linda Loosli
  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap-grated either by hand, food processor, or salad shooter
  • 1 cup Borax Detergent Booster
  • 1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not regular baking soda)
  1. Grate the bar of soap by hand, or use an electric vegetable grater.

  2. Put these 3 ingredients in a blender to blend.

  3. After doing this, it will look just like the store-purchased detergent, but will not include all the “fillers."

  4. You will use less product per load and will have fewer “soap bubbles."

  5. Remember, just having bubbles doesn’t mean clean. I use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per load, depending on the size of the load.

  6. I have a HE-High Efficiency washer, and it works great in regular washing machines as well.

  7. Store the finished product in an airtight container, preferably glass to keep it dry.

  8. I store some in 5-gallon buckets, but I don't live where it's humid. Just giving you the heads up.

25. Dawn Dish Soap

This is my favorite liquid soap. It might cost a bit more, but the few extra cents of cost are worth the grease this stuff can clean. One of my readers mentioned using Dawn Soap in baggies with water to clean underwear, rinse and dry them. Plus, she uses Dawn Liquid Soap to wash her hair!

26. Kitty Litter

Great for potty chairs (a reader mentioned you can get “oil dry” much cheaper at automotive stores).

27. Water Filters and purification devices

I use the LifeStraw and the Berkey Sports Water Bottle to filter water, along with a PortaWell water treatment system for higher volume needs.

28. Water containers

Collection, storage, and carrying containers (never throw out a bucket). You can never have too many buckets for washing, rinsing, or mixing large batches of meals for your neighborhood (food containers only (BPA-free for meal preparation).

29. Water

LOTS of water needs. I have WaterBricks with handles to grab and go. I suggest four gallons of water per person per day for hydration, cooking, personal hygiene, and limited laundry tasks.

30. Food

We need a minimum of 2 weeks of food for everyone in your family. Check out the numerous posts I have on my website that help you decide what foods are best to store for your particular family. Whether it’s canned meat like tuna and chicken for protein, pasta and rice as bases for long-term storage, or other non-perishable foods like beans, canned veggies, and canned fruits, you can put in your pantry.

Well, I Guess I Have More Than Thirty Ideas

31. Lysol or Clorox Wipes

We need to be able to wipe down everything possible for effective disease control of infectious disease.

32. Sanitary napkins

These can be used for so many things and women will have need of these during emergencies too.

33. Regular unfolded diapers

These can be used for scarves, bandages, slings, and diapers.


Designed to help with dehydration. Drip Drop

35. Disposable Aprons, thank you, Holly

Disposable aprons

Stock Your Home Pharmacy

Final Word

Here is a link to the Weekly US Map Influenza. I am sure all the states have a website where you can view how they are prepared for a Pandemic Outbreak, should one occur. Please remember that I am not a doctor or someone in the medical field. I want us all to be prepared for the unexpected.

These are just 30 Pandemic Essentials to get you started. Preparing for an unforeseen emergency or disaster is another step. This is part one of my pandemic preparedness project. I’ll provide additional information in the days to come.

First aid kit by Linda

Copyright Images: Depositphotos_12301402_m-2015 and Depositphotos_36962601_s-2019

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  1. Linda ~
    I don’t have babies at home any more but when it comes to diapers – I would want both pre-fold diapers as well as unfolded. My daughter has a newborn and she opted to diaper using flour sack towels and fold them herself. The benefit to these is that they are big enough for diapers, bandaging, head scarf, and drying dishes! In fact, when I had my daughter 33 years ago, I used disposable diapers because I worked full time BUT, it gave me an excuse to purchase flour sack towels! I am still using some of them.

    Something else that I would add to the list is sanitary pads. They can be useful for more that what they were intended in some of the ways that prefold diapers are used – soaking up blood from an injury. Because they are disposable, I would find them more convenient to use in the event of a pandemic. I would likely take them and vacuum seal them to take up less space. Not sure if doing that, however, would impact their absorb-ability.

  2. 26. Kitty Litter: great for potty chairs (also a reader mentioned you can get “oil dry” much cheaper at automotive stores).

    Around me you have to go apples to apples. that oil dry stuff is equal to the cheapest kitty non-clumping litter. It might be worth having some odor control / clumping litter for the potty bucket. (especially if you are trapped in close quarters with it :p ewwwww)
    I’m not sure what the best way to cover or neutralize the smell of puke in a bucket… but (at least to me) that would be the worst!!
    As usual Linda, a post to keep the gears turning!

      1. OK, I sit in front of a computer all day 😉
        Here’s what I found (sound like Siri LOL)

        —- How to Remove Vomit Smell —-

        Put a bag of untreated charchol briquettes and overnight the smell was gone

        Use disinfectant spray (Lysol) for that purpose. works perfectly.

        You can also spread baking soda and leave it overnight, then vacuum.

        You can also try saturating the area with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then, using a clean white absorbent cloth, blot the area, pressing down firmly (do not rub) for 30 seconds. Repeat this blotting process until the area is dry.

        The vomit smell was completely absorbed into the bowl of vinegar! An open bowl of white vinegar will soak up most strong odours – including the smell of fresh paint in a house!

        Odoban. You can mix a little and spray it for an instance smell-be-gone or use it in a stronger solution for floors, laundry etc.

        Sprinkle coffee gounds (fresh) in your car–leave overnight, then vacuum. My husband worked in a distribution center and rail cars came in smelling terrible and coffee is what was used. Hope this will help.

        Put straight vinegar in a pint jar or jars and leave them sitting somewhere in the room where no one will see them and it takes care of all smells from pets, to tobacco smoke, and persons being/getting sick in the house.

        Generic Listerine, (the amber colored from wal mart) is excellent. I put it in spray bottle and use it for vomit, pet smells, cat urine, etc. and works very well. Use it as a general cleaner for the bathrooms and kitchen too… even windows, dirt cheap!

        Try an enzyme based cleaner. Thats what they use in nursing homes etc. You can get these from pet shops. Instead of masking the smell the enzyme eats any traces of the desposit. It works on soiling so could well work well on vomit.
        If the area is now dry, saturate the problem area and cover with a plastic sheet for a few hours (so it doesnt dry up).
        When you pick the cleaner, make sure it states that it is enzyme based, it will be a few quid more expensive but many times more effective.

        Clean it up as best as you can and assuming the area affected is still damp sprinkle on generous amounts of bicarbonate of Soda and leave it over night.

        Bio-Sure Septic Treatment – It is a dry flake/granular material

        1. HI Bruce, you are awesome!!! This gives ALL of us so many ways to get rid of the puke/vomit smell. I LOVE it! I’m hoping they will barf in their own bag. Store lots of bags! LOL! Great comment! Linda

  3. Linda, this is an excellent list. A true pandemic could affect so many areas of our lives, from stores receiving goods to availability of clinics. I remember when H1N1 flu was raging a few years ago. One of my sons was diagnosed fairly early, so no long wait for clinic. Within a few days, our clinic had to set up perimeters, almost like a triage, as it was standing room only. And my clinic is in a good size hospital, with many types of clinics within this (lol) Megamall of healthcare. My doctor asked how many people lived in our household: 4. He gave Tamiflu prescriptions for all of us. Said if any of us other 3 started the same symptoms, to take the meds, don’t come back to clinic unless I deemed somebody needed ER care. Also told me to use Lysol spray (or liquid) in any area my son was in…on light switches, toilet, sink, etc. Told me to wash son’s bedding, clothing, towels, dishes with some Lysol put in rinse water. So maybe I’d add Real Lysol to your list, along with the bleach. Doctor said generic might be ok but his wife said it’s not as potent. (She’s a chemist. ) I used the Lysol and none of us others caught it. Yes, I saved the Tamiflu scrips. Ya just never know when they might be needed.

  4. SO what container did you put all of this stuff. I’m thinking the North side of my basement. LOL I don’t think that much stuff(all needed) will fit in any container I have.

  5. Linda,
    I live in Washington. Down in Vancouver, WA there is a measles outbreak. Started with one un-vaccinated child. Now it is up to 26 people–including adults. Many of the adults knew or thought they knew they were vaccinated as children! One person was at a basketball game in Portland, Oregon, before coming down with a case of measles. This event is even on National news. Cannot be too careful. I had measles as a child and my sister had the mumps at the same time! (my poor mother). My sister got the measles but I never go the mumps. Years later, when I was pregnant with my fourth child, my dr. told me I was to get a measles vaccination because I was not covered anymore. Wonder how we can find out what our titer would be like for measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. It would be scary if all those came back again because people don’t believe in vaccinating their children.

    1. Joanne, it looks like you can be tested with a titer blood test to see if you are immune to certain diseases, like the measles. Great comment, we may all want to be checked. Linda

  6. my grand daughter,who is an EMT , told me to use coffee grounds on vomit.So I save used coffee grounds in the plastic cans they came in,marked as used.I have most of everything you have on your list. I have a bucket full of things for a pandemic. Several sizes of disposable gloves,N95 and N100 masks,with vents, peroxide,alcohol,anti-diarrhea, dawn,cloth diapers,wet wipes,lysol wipes, powdered gatorade, disposable bags and trash bags of several sizes.Several different types of otc pain relievers,anti itch creams and neosporin. Blood clotting powder,band aids, several different splints and braces. The list goes on. I also keep another bucket with food and prep items right beside the other bucket. I have a tote with the paper items and plastic ware. I know I am missing a few items, such as plastic sheeting and clothes line. I have duct tape. I buy toilet paper and paper towels by the case when I find them on sale. Thank you for the list, lets me know what I have missed. God Bless and keep you safe.

  7. Hi guys Nurse Mom here, there is a product called drip drops, it was created by a doctor not a drink company for electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. Much better then the sports drinks, easy to store and it is used by professionals very effective and works faster than the previous mentioned without all of the harmful chemicals. Look it up on their website and Happy prepping.

  8. I keep bottles of Elderberry Syrup on hand, one for each member of my family. Works the same as Tamiflu only better and no side affects. Last year, when the flu hit our area, it was a 3 week wait to get some. So glad I was prepared, especially after hearing about others who weren’t.

    1. Hi Patty, what a great comment! I wish people would learn to use natural remedies!!! I use Elderberry Syrup when needed and always have several bottles in my stash. Keep prepping! Linda

        1. Hi Sandi, just like our 72-hour kits, you have to rotate the food and medications. This is a bucket ready to grab and go if needed. Our 72-hour kits are ready to grab and go as well. Linda

  9. Even if we are not in the midst of a pandemic, this list is wonderful. Who wants to run out when they are sick for supplies?

  10. 5 stars
    Might I add one more item for pandemic prep, I didn’t see on your list? Maybe I missed it. Lots of pet food canned and dry, for dogs and cats, rabbit pellets, the proper seed and cuttle bones for birds, aquarium food and supplies, treats for all, catnip, and toys (pet toys are good for humans too. They relieve stress on both pet and owner.. During Covid the Pet Food aisles were stripped bare here and while we were able to get it online, we had to switch between websites, as everyone was having problems getting stock in. And any pet prescriptions (make certain to have adequate refills since the Vet’s Office might closed, most of the time. Whatever can’t be refilled at the Pharmacy, can be purchased on line (chewy.com).

    1. Hi MaryAnn, I thought about the cat and dog food but you brought up many that need to be stocked for other pets, thank you!! Yes, I remember there was a big shortage for pet food, thanks for the reminder!! Love it, Linda

  11. 5 stars
    Anytime Linda, your posts are always worth 5 stars in my book! Each and everyone is jam packed with very useful information. ❤️❤️

  12. 5 stars
    I have everything on your list although some are alternatives. The last 2 months, I focused entirely on medical supplies and equipment and am completely stocked. Got bed pans and urinals, too. Had to get a stethoscope. Don’t want to be like great great grandmother Callahan and be thought dead, body washed and set out for mourners to view, only for one to say, “Grandmaw ain’t dead. Bring a mirror to put under her nose.” Sure enough, there was a little moisture on the mirror, grandmaw wasn’t dead and she lived 20 more years after her stroke. I put items like gauze, elastic “vet wrap”, bandaids, sutures, pain killers, gut and butt meds, anti-bacterial soap, vinyl exam gloves, and cold meds on Amazon subscriptions so they just keep coming in and I don’t have to think about what to order next. If you put enough items on subscription, you get a 15% price break on each item in that delivery.

    1. Hi Angela, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! Oh the ““Grandmaw ain’t dead. Bring a mirror to put under her nose.” I got the giggles, great story. It sounds like you are stocked up my friend! Love it! Linda

  13. Linda,

    I think you forgot the most important essential of all–skepticism. I know the next time the government tells me the sky is falling I’ll ignore them. The absurd lengths “they” went to during Covid (virtually all of which have now been revealed as unnecessary or even harmful) has convinced me to use my own best judgement.

    Doesn’t mean I haven’t prepped for the next pandemic. Just means I may not listen to the “experts.”

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