Although technically about bird flu and therefore now out of date (maybe), this book is still quite useful. It has very little technical or medical information. It concentrates on surviving the social and psychological problems that a worst case flu pandemic would cause.
The first five chapters are generic disaster-preparedness advice: water, food, loss of natural gas and electricity, sanitation, and protecting your I.D. and other records.
Therefore, this information could be potentially life-saving for anybody who experiences any kind of widespread disaster. This didn’t happen with bird flu (though it still could) and probably won’t with swine flu either. But it could have helped people in post-Katrina New Orleans. It would help people here in St Louis when we experience periodic blackouts of electricity.
Since TIME has reported that 91% of Americans live in areas threatened by potential earthquakes, floods, storms, fires and terrorist attacks, we need this information.
One important section is about engaging with your community. The editor and author obviously wanted to avoid the “stockpiling guns and hold up in a bunker” mentality, while recognizing that communities and neighborhoods may have to protect themselves from dangerous outsiders.
I somehow doubt that anybody implemented these suggestions during the bird flu scare. The people who were really preparing for a worst-case bird flu pandemic seemed to be the stockpiling types, though some recognized they couldn’t keep out their hungry neighbors. And people not making preparations for their own families were not likely to help make plans for their towns or neighborhoods.
However, if a massive social breakdown had occurred, I believe many communities would have cooperated.
There are also chapters on coping with the psychological stresses of staying inside your house for long periods of time, caring for sick people and grieving for your dead.
I don’t think you can really prepare for the last two of those, but having a good supply of books, batteries for electronic games, board games, puzzles, toys and musical instruments on hand for family recreation is a smart idea.
The book also talks about running for the hills, and the advice is to prepare in advance, and only if you have family or friends in the country to run to. And you better make sure they’ll agree to take you in.
Or you could have your own country place, such as a second home on a lake or cabin in the woods. However, getting there may be dangerous. And you may find “your” place already occupied by someone who doesn’t want to share.
Guns are never mentioned in this book, but obviously have a place.
Not the last word on disaster preparedness, but a lot of information that could come in handy someday.