Monday, April 27, 2009

Preparing for a Pandemic

With all of the events happening around the world right now, I thought it would be useful to post about preparing for a pandemic. What is a pandemic? What is an epidemic?

Epidemic: An epidemic is defined by an illness or health-related issue that is showing up in more cases than would be normally expected.
Pandemic: A pandemic is an epidemic disease that spreads to other communities usually beyond national borders.

This morning on the national news they reported that the "Swine Flu" has been spreading rapidly throughout Mexico. It has been found and diagnosed in New York City, as well as 5 other states. Although nobody has died in the US, the government has put the USA on "alert". Sometimes we think that a pandemic couldn't happen, but in reality, it could.

What is the Swine Flu?: "Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by a type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans; however, human infections with swine flu do occur. Public health officials have determined that this strain of swine flu virus spreads from human to human and can cause illness." CDC

Part of our storage should contain things that would help protect us from a pandemic:
  • N95 medical masks - at least 3-5 per person. "95" means that they keep out 95% of the airborne particles. Cheapest if ordered online:,, Walgreens, etc. Also available in medical supply stores and in pharmacies. These will disappear quickly from the shelves in a pandemic.
  • disposable vinyl, nitrile, or latex gloves or other reusable gloves that can be disinfected
  • household bleach
  • liquid hand soap
  • hand sanitizer (enough so everyone can have their own)
  • disinfectant wipes
  • Lysol® or Clorox® disinfectant
  • kleenex tissues
  • trash bags (plenty as there may be limited trash pickup)
  • laundry detergent (if someone in your family is ill, you will be doing plenty of washing)
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper
  • disposable diapers for infants
  • a supply of your prescription medications, nonprescription drugs, and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, vitamins, rubbing alcohol, thermometers
  • have a 3-month supply of food at home
  • food for the flu (white rice, jell-o, pedialyte for kids, sprite, 7 -up, etc)
Handwashing will be the greatest deterrent of any illness. Learn how to and teach your family how to wash correctly:
  1. Use very warm, running water and soap (an antibacterial soap is best).
  2. Scrub both sides of the hands for about 20 or 30 seconds.
  3. Pay close attention to under the fingernails and around the hair follicles at the bottom of each finger and on the back of the hands.
  4. Rinse well with very warm, running water.
  5. Dry hands with a disposable paper towel.

Hands should be washed:

  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers, (wash the hands of the diapered child too)
  • After helping a child at the toilet
  • Whenever hands come in contact with body fluids, including vomit, saliva and runny noses
  • Before fixing or eating food
  • After touching raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs
  • After meals and snacks

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