In previous posts I've talked a lot about preparing for disasters, building resilience, developing a survival attitude, etc. Well now, with the developing swine flu crisis upon us it's time to put all that into practice. The American Psychological Association recently put out a brief statement regarding how to manage your anxiety about swine flu. You can find that discussion here. In essence the APA suggests the following: keep things in perspective, get the facts, maintain a hopeful outlook, stay healthy, build resilience, have a plan, communicate with your family, keep connected, and seek additional help when needed.
Of the above nine elements I wish to stress the following: get the facts, have a plan, keep connected. Where can we get the facts? What kind of a reasonable plan should I and my family follow? Who has the best information and how can I connect to it? The answer to these questions is the Center for Disease Control. Their website has numerous checklists for families, businesses, schools, and communities. You can access that information here.
In general the CDC acknowledges that in a flu pandemic social disruption may be widespread, that being able to work may be difficult or impossible, that schools may be closed for a long period, that transportation services may be disrupted, and that people will need advice about what to do. Their advice is to prepare and prepare now. The CDC suggests that families stockpile two weeks of food and water. More specifically the CDC states the following:
You can prepare for an influenza pandemic now. You should know both the magnitude of what can happen during a pandemic outbreak and what actions you can take to help lessen the impact of an influenza pandemic on you and your family. This checklist will help you gather the information and resources you may need in case of a flu pandemic.
1. To plan for a pandemic:
o Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.
o Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
o Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
o Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
o Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
o Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.
2. To limit the spread of germs and prevent infection:
o Teach your children to wash hands frequently with soap and water, and model the correct behavior.
o Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, and be sure to model that behavior.
o Teach your children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick. Stay home from work and school if sick.
3. Items to have on hand for an extended stay at home:
Examples of food and non-perishables Examples of medical, health, and emergency supplies
o Ready-to-eat canned meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups o Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment
o Protein or fruit bars o Soap and water, or alcohol-based (60-95%) hand wash
o Dry cereal or granola o Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
o Peanut butter or nuts o Thermometer
o Dried fruit o Anti-diarrheal medication
o Crackers o Vitamins
o Canned juices o Fluids with electrolytes
o Bottled water o Cleansing agent/soap
o Canned or jarred baby food and formula o Flashlight
o Pet food o Batteries
o Other non-perishable items o Portable radio
o Manual can opener
o Garbage bags
o Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers
In conclusion, keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful attitude. Frankly, I personally am affronted by much of what I what I see and hear the "talking heads" on television say about the current situation. Thus I recommend that you and your family avoid staying "glued" to the TV news programs but rather seek periodic updates from more credible sources such as the CDC website. Good luck.