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How to Prepare for the Flu or Other Viral and Bacterial Outbreaks

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 2

Viruses and Bacteria are everywhere.

Recently, my local news reported on a woman who had flown out of London and through three different US airports, and once at home, learned she had the measles. Now, the worry is who else, who was near to her, has, or is going to, become ill, too.

Last year, everywhere we turned, from the Internet to TV, we heard about the swine flu. A few years back there was the bird flu in China and then SARS in Canada.

And if that is not frightening enough, we are constantly bombarded with warnings about those individuals in this world who posses the knowledge to weaponize certain viruses and bacteria. Remember the anthrax scare of 2001, following the atrocities of September 11?

It used to be that all we had to worry about was strep throat going around at school, in the dorm, or in the office.

This article is not meant to scare people. Instead, I have written it to share my thoughts on how to prepare, ahead of time, for either a natural outbreak of pandemic flu, or some other virus or bacterium, or either, worse case scenario, some type of biological attack on our soil.

With our global society, a major outbreak, regardless of how they start, could quickly become a pandemic. Even if travel restrictions were imposed across the globe, say if there were ever a biological attack, the virus or bacteria would probably have already spread from country to country before its presence was known. Remember, someone, somewhere, must always be the first to become ill before anyone else in the world knows what is happening.

Pandemic illness is on the minds of many, and the prospects are frightening. I am not a health care professional, just a concerned citizen, but I am here to offer some tips my family has done to prepare and to protect ourselves in the event of a worse case scenario.

Things You’ll Need

Prescription medication(s)

Over-the-counter medications for colds and flu

Masks

Latex gloves

Disinfectant wipes

Extra supply of food and sundries

Step 1

Talk to your doctor and the doctor(s) of all family members. By doing this, your doctor can offer specific information, advice, and precautions for each family member. Ask your doctor for additional prescriptions for any drugs you or your family members take. Fill them, so you can have an extra supply on hand should a pandemic arise, and you don't want to venture into the pharmacy. Also, make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with over-the-counter drugs to fight colds, flu, and other minor respiratory conditions.

Step 2

Purchase masks. Since flu, and other bad bacteria and viruses are respiratory illnesses, wearing a mask could be key to decreasing your chances of catching the virus or bacteria should the outbreak become severe. Look for face masks that have a rating of N95; these are the types currently approved for protection against the swine flu, anthrax, smallpox, etc.. Check the following suppliers for these masks: nearby pharmacies, medical supply houses, the Internet, and some home improvement warehouses (think painters' mask).

Step 3

Purchase a supply of either latex or vinyl gloves; the kinds of gloves used in doctors' offices. Should someone in your family become sick, you can wear these gloves to protect yourself and help stop the spread of the flu, virus, or bacteria while disinfecting objects and/or treating your patient. These gloves can be purchased in large quantities at warehouse stores or online.

Step 4

Look for packages of disinfecting wipes while in one of these warehouse stores or on their website. Many of them promise to kill the flu virus, but be sure to read the label on whichever particular brand you decide to purchase. These are not only good for disinfecting in times of sickness, but they are great for cleaning in kitchens and bathrooms. They can also be used to wipe away germs on common surfaces like phones, doorknobs, remotes, etc., as well as even groceries, should the swine flu become rampant.

Step 5

Accumulate a stockpile of food and sundries, which would allow you and your family to stay home, should a pandemic become severe. With hurricane season, and the possibility of other weather issues, having an extra supply of food items is always a smart idea.

Tips

*Since we don't know how bad a pandemic could ever be, it is better to prepare sooner rather than later. If your supplies are not needed say, this flu season, you will already have a head start on the next flu season.

*Remember the importance of routine hand washing with soap and water and using handsanitizers or wipes when out in public. Good health practices, like eating well, exercise, and regular sleep, are key to warding off any flu, virus, or bacteria.

*Do your own research because, as they say, knowledge is power. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own health and the health of those family members who depend on you for guidance and care.


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Comments

Mar 7, 2011 6:03pm
Deborah-Diane
Great advice! I work at a high school and I'm constantly being exposed to both viral and bacterial illnesses. There's a lot of practical wisdom in your article!
Mar 23, 2011 12:17pm
Introspective
Important information for everyone, thanks jeni10!
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