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As health officials combat the new influenza virus known as H1N1 or swine flu with detection, diagnosis, and treatment protocols, it’s important to realize that managing a major disease outbreak requires participation from everyone. This recent flu outbreak reminds us how important it is to be prepared and how we all need to take the time now to get ready for a possible pandemic flu.
Think about all likely emergencies. Take this opportunity to make sure your family plan includes contingencies for different types of hazards and ensure all family members understand and practice the plan. Consider the possibility of more than one hazard occurring at the same time, such as a disease outbreak and a power outage. More information on creating a family disaster plan can be found on the following websites: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/individual/index.html and www.fema.gov/areyouready.
Get local information. Call or visit the website for your local health department to learn their plans and recommendations for a potential disease outbreak in your community. Ask how you can receive updated information on local outbreaks, how you learn about prevention safety measures (including hand-washing, social-distancing, anti-viral medications), and who to contact if you become ill or have questions
Prepare supplies for possible social distancing measures. Social distancing, or limited personal interaction, is an important preventative measure to reduce the spread of disease. If a pandemic situation occurs, you may be asked to stay in your home, with limited access to outside sources of food or services. Prepare to reduce your need to go public places by store a two-week supply of water and non-perishable food for the entire family, including pets. Have two weeks of your regular prescription drugs at home and keep other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers and cold medicines. Be sure to check expiration dates on prescription and nonprescription drugs. The following website provides a list of recommended items to sustain your family during a pandemic flu: www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/pdf/individuals.pdf (PDF).