What is a Pandemic?
A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of an infectious disease for which humans have no immunity. The infectious disease is very contagious and causes serious illness.
Every year some 36,000 people die of seasonal flu in this country. Did you know that when a pandemic flu strikes those numbers increase drastically? While existing vaccines can protect you from seasonal flu, they will be of little or no value during a flu pandemic, until new vaccines are developed which may take months. In addition the supply of vaccines and antiviral medications may be insufficient to meet the needs. But there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family.
What is the likelihood that a pandemic will occur any time soon?
History informs us that pandemics occur at the rate of 3 or 4 each century. The last century was no exception with 3 pandemics, the 1918 Spanish flu being the worst ever recorded with up to 100 million deaths worldwide. In today's population figures it would equate to 300 million deaths. The last pandemic which occurred in 1968 was thankfully much less severe, but we are overdue for the next one and that is what has health officials worldwide quite concerned, especially in light of the deadly avian flu.
What you need to know
Unlike seasonal flu, an influenza pandemic can occur at any time of the year and lasts much longer, coming in waves that can last 6 to 8 weeks, separated by months. The second wave is often the most serious.
Many workers (up to 50%), in all types of occupations, including health care, financial, business, education, government, utilities, communications , foodservice, transportation, police & fire, may be affected. We are likely to experience major disruptions in all services, which will require that every citizen in each community across the Nation be prepared in order to survive. Are we up to the challenge?
Importance and benefits of being prepared
The effects of a pandemic can be minimized for you and your family only if you are prepared to face its consequences. Preparing for a disaster, whether a pandemic or other crisis, helps bring greater peace of mind and confidence in facing the crisis and greatly increases our ability to survive the events. We have a critical role to play as individuals to insure our safety and that of our families and community when a pandemic strikes. During a pandemic we cannot rely on others we must plan the best that we can. Our survival and that of our family will completely depend on how well WE are prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead. The time to plan and prepare is NOW.
- The Red Cross has a very helpful brochure on family preparedness.
- Another source of information is the CDC (Center for Disease Control) hotline available 24/7 at 1-800-232-4636.
Basic protective measures for individuals during a pandemic
- Avoid all crowds and public places including (restaurants, malls, church, movie theaters, sports events, etc…..)
- Avoid hand contact with people and objects in public places.
- Cough or sneeze in facial tissues & dispose of appropriately.
- Cough or sneeze in your upper sleeve not hand, if tissues are not available.
- Wash hands frequently especially after being in public places.
- Wear protective clothing including (mask N95, gloves, goggles).
- Wash hands for 15 seconds (sing happy birthday twice) using liquid soap or 60 to 90% alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses and remove rings.
- Stay home when sick and wear a mask to protect people around you.
Supplies to purchase and keep on hand
- Flashlight and battery powered radio with extra batteries or wind-up radio/flashlight.
- Manual can opener
- N95 masks (20 for $15.00 to $20.00)
- Eye protectors or eye glasses (avoid wearing contact lenses)
- Box of disposable gloves
- Tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, disposable diapers
- Garbage bags
- Bleach, disinfectant surface wipes
Medical supplies to have on hand
- Prescription drugs
- Glucose monitors
- Antibacterial soaps and alcohol based (60% +) hand sanitizers
- Fever reducers and pain relievers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen ect..)
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Electrolyte drink
Water and food supplies to have on hand
(2-3 week supply)
- 1 gallon of water per person /day x 2-3 weeks
- Ready to eat canned meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, beans and soups
- High energy foods (protein or fruit bars)
- Dry cereal or granola
- Nuts and dried fruit
- Peanut butter
- Canned juices
- Baby food, pet food