MoonDawg's Den: Avian flu - time to stock up

MoonDawg's Den

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Avian flu - time to stock up

A couple of friends asked me today what one should have at home in case of an all-out avian flu pandemic. I've been researching this for a few months now and here's what I recommend (Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional of any kind, although I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night).

1. First off, get basic emergency supplies of the kind that everyone should have in their home to be prepared for a disaster of ANY kind:

Water: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First Aid Kit
Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
Moist towelettes for sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Can opener for food
Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers, and important family documents
Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

2. Invest in some personal protective gear:

Masks rated N-95 or higher
Sterile gloves
Hair Covers
Protective eyeware (goggles)
Boot or shoe covers

3. Sanitation - the best way to avoid the flu is to wash your damn hands. You should also have the following handy to sanitize shoes, clothing, and any items you may bring into your house from outside:

Hand sanitizers: carry bottles of this with you anywhere you go.
Laundry detergent, soap, and shampoo: stock up on plenty, enough to last you several days or weeks. Keep yourself and your clothes as clean as possible.
Bleach: get plenty of this too, and some cheap plastic spray bottles to put it in (solution should be 3/4 cup bleach per gallon of water), for sanitizing shoes, doorsteps, garbage cans, etc. Disposable wipes with bleach will work too, especially for things like door handles.

4. Drugs, baby. At present no vaccine exists for avian influenza A(H5N1), and the bird flu in its current form is already showing resistance to preventative drugs such as Tamiflu. The CDC recommends having the following on hand to treat symptoms:

Nonprescription pain relievers
Nonprescription stomach remedies

Cough and cold medicines
Fluids with electrolytes

So that's the basic stuff you should have for your household in case of a global pandemic. Obviously you might invest in other types of protection if things look to get really bad. Should we have a modern version of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the potential for social and economic chaos is truly frightening.


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