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With the current Swine Flu scare coming out of Mexico and popping up here and there in the United States, it is prudent to become familiar with the situation and especially prudent to review your Pandemic Preparedness Level. I should also stress that this is a “DON’T PANIC, Just Prepare!” post. So first, let’s get to know the player - what is the swine flu? Well, it’s just a variant of the “flu” that makes the rounds and gets passed around every year. Thing is, this variant doesn’t typically pass to humans so there is not an anti-virus in production or even made yet. Don’t take it from me though, and don’t take it from the ‘news’. Here are links to the CDC info and briefs on this situation:
- Swine Flu Brief
- Key facts about Swine Influenza
- Human Swine Influenza Investigation
- This is a vid-cast from the CDC about the swine flu outbreak
- Swine flu CANNOT be transmitted by food. Eating pork does NOT put you at risk.
- This is NOT the first time the ’swine flu’ has transmitted to humans. It’s happened several times before without it becoming a pandemic.
- This variant of swine flu, as with any flu, is a virus and primarily spread person-to-person through coughing or sneezing.
- This is just a flu! The key here is to NOT GET IT, since there is not currently an anti-viral for it.
Quick notes about prevention:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because germs can spread that way.
Now, let’s talk a bit about Pandemic Preparedness.
We’ve linked to this before, here is an excellent resource on Pandemic Preparedness from the LDS Church. In the case of a true Pandemic outbreak in your area, the most important thing is to be prepared to Shelter In. This means having enough food/water/supplies to keep you and your family inside at your home for possibly several weeks. You don’t want to be caught in a store-run in a pandemic outbreak! You need to make sure you are prepared for that possibility ahead of time. If you have your 3 month supply of everything at home already, then Peace is yours in this situation!
Other Pandemic specific things to make sure you have an excellent supply of:
- N-95 Masks: These masks are different from regular dust masks or other types of masks. They are rated to help stop the spread of viruses. You should have enough in your preps to provide a new one to every member of your family every day for at least 2 weeks. They can be purchased at most stores that include a pharmacy, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, WalGreens, etc. Generally they are a little pricey but are necessary for your preps.
- Medical Gloves: You should have several hundred pair of medical gloves in your preps. These are needed if someone in your family gets sick and you have to self-quarantine. Anytime you touch anything that a sick person has been around, you need to be wearing gloves. You can buy these at the same places you buy N-95 masks. They are a lot cheaper than the masks though.
- Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer: Even though you’re wearing gloves all the time, you should have lots of alcohol based sanitizers in your preps. You should have them in your day bag, your go bag, your 72-hour kits and your regular preps. You should also have lots of anti-bacterial soap as well.
Other Preps: To be prepared to take care of someone infected in your home, you should also have the following in your preps (these preps will be for the single person providing care for the sick person, you do not need to have enough of these supplies for everyone in the family to wear constantly):
- Disposable surgical gowns
- Disposable shoe covers
- Goggles or face shield
- Bleach (to clean surfaces and items touched by a sick person)
- Supplies to boil water (to sanitize dishes and other items used by sick person)
I can’t stress enough how important Pandemic Preparedness is. The worst possible thing you could do in a Pandemic outbreak is rush to the store with thousands of potentially sick people and try to fight them all to buy supplies to shelter in. The only rushing you want to do in a Pandemic situation is rush home - and stay there.
Make sure you have N-95 masks and hand sanitizer in your Day Bag, Office Kit, Car Kit, Go Bag and 72 Hour kits! Keep a good supply of sanitizing materials in your preps at home and .. .. .. Don’t Panic!
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According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control): symptoms for swine flu (H1N1) include: fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If you come down with even a few of these symptoms, call your doctor, don your mask, and head on to get checked out. Samples of your blood will be sent to be examined to see if you have this strain of flu. Better to be safe than sorry.
Here's a link to a .pdf file that gives information on how to give chest compressions to people who are having troubles clearing their lungs: http://www.phoenixchildrens.com/emily-center/child-health-topics/handouts/CPT-55b.pdf. Print it out and put it in your emergency binder.
You haven't started your emergency binder? Do it. TODAY! Grab a 2" binder and label it. Start with printing out the .pdf mentioned in the above paragraph. Then start your inventory of your stored foods, disposable gloves and other items mentioned in this article. Do you have hygiene and sanitary products, i.e. toilet paper? Cough medicine, theraflu, ibuprofen, acetamenaphin, children's products? A way to light your home? A way to cook if your utilities get shut off? Enough water (1 gallon per person per day)? Make a note in your binder of everything, then get out there are purchase what you don't have. Be sure to include a section in your binder for first aid, cooking without utilities, and more.
In addition, be sure to sanitize (with bleach, ammonia and/or vinegar) all doorknobs, telephones, toilet handles, cups, and everything else that you come in contact with. First thing tomorrow, we're going through this house and sanitizing everything, including the doorbell outside!
We have a particular situation: we have begun packing and preparing to move. We also have some minor repairs to make, and I have a business to run. Busy busy. We don't intend to put the house on the market until June, but have to pack and store lots of items to "stage" the house (make it more sellable). So... we have to figure out how to store our "prep" items without making prospective buyers think we're end-of-the-world freaks (which we're not). We can't fill our big water storage tank, and in the midst of moving some things to the storage unit we rented, we can't find the disposable gloves, masks, etc. At least we still have plenty of stored food on our special shelves.
So, despite tomorrow being my birthday, after I take the dogs to the vet, Tween and I need to gather some more disposable gloves, N-95 masks, goggles, bleach, and lots of gallons of water. Then we'll get a couple more bags of dog food and head on home.