Avian Flu Pandemic: Are You Prepared?

It’s becoming more and more of a topic of conversation with my friends and on the evening news. I’ve seen warnings and talks of how to be prepared in the event of a pandemic in the United States from Avian Flu. I try not to be a paranoid person, but when you hear something enough, it begins to seep into your mind on a regular basis whether you want to think about it or not.

Avian Flu is a virus carried by birds. According to www.info.gov, cases of avian flu have popped up over much of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and Europe. Both human and birds have been affected by the virus. As of May 2006, no cases of infected birds or humans have been reported in North America, South America, or Australia. That could change very quickly though.

The government projects that millions of people in the US could die, millions more will become sick and the economy will take a hit. Hospitals will be overwhelmed and help will be hard to find. Please keep in mind; this is the worst-case scenario, not the ultimate outcome. At this point, they can only make a guess. Please do not panic and take worst -case prediction as the truth about what will happen, it is just one of many possiblities

The US government has taken steps to help you be prepared. Their focus seems to be on each people taking responsibility for themselves, because if a pandemic were to hit the US, you may not have any assistance. You will be left to deal with keeping your family safe.

What Might Happen?

If a pandemic were to occur, your way of life will be disrupted for a while. Businesses, schools, and transportation will be shut down or run at a limited capacity. This would also affect hospitals, restaurants, churches, banks, and postal service. What you should understand here is that when large amounts of people get sick during a pandemic, many stay home (as they should) and every service and business will be affected.

Hospitals could easily become overwhelmed and understaffed. Your local grocery store may quickly become depleted of food and water, and gas may be in short supply for a short time, mostly due to stores closing because if sick employees. Keep these points in mind as you prepare.

What Should You Do?

All you can do is be prepared, and hope your planning is never needed. Sadly, you are better of being a little paranoid rather than thinking nothing will happen and be caught unaware. Plan ahead, be prepared so you aren’t left wishing you had paid attention to the pandemic warnings.

Your Kids

If schools are closed indefinitely, and you can’t leave the house, you are going to want things to do. Buy some educational materials to keep them busy, along with crafts or toys. Keep them put away until or if they are needed.

Your Family Needs

Start getting items together now that you will need in case you are confined to your home for weeks at a time. If you already have a disaster kit, you are half way there. Think of every possible need you have and make sure you have enough for at least four weeks, if not longer. Remember, there is a small chance that you may not have electricity.

Important items to have in supply:

– water (bottled is best)
– food that requires no cooking or refrigeration
– paper cups, plates and utensils
– garbage bags
– can openers
– flashlights
– battery powered radio
– extra batteries
– tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels
– medications, both over-the counter and prescription
– fully stocked first aid kit
– family documentation (ID, medical records, etc.)
– soaps and lotions
– contacts, glasses and solution
– cell phone
– list of emergency numbers and those of family
– small toolkit
– extra car and home keys
– extra blankets
– warm clothing (incase of heat outage)
– personal hygiene items (toothpaste, brushes, etc)
– candles (use extreme caution when burning them)
– baby supplies (if you have a baby)
– pet supplies (if you have pets)

Take Extra Care

If a pandemic occurs, take extra care to protect you and your family. This may mean keeping your kids home from school, and it may also mean you should arrange to work from home if at all possible. Stress the importance of washing hands with hot, soapy water and keeping a distance from people if the flu has come to your area.

Final Thoughts

It’s never a good idea to panic about anything, and being prepared will help you to remain calm if the worst were to happen. I’d like to stress that a pandemic is not guaranteed, but it could happen. Keep up to date with your states plans, follow government websites, and the news to keep up to date with the latest information. Personally, I hope all this preparing is for nothing, but I don’t want to be caught without the basic needs for my family.

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