pandemic preparedness

The time to prepare for a pandemic is NOT when you hear about it on the news. As we've seen the past few weeks, anything considered as an essential supply in a pandemic situation quickly disappears off of the shelves. Masks, gloves and sanitizer were sold-out almost overnight once the news about swine flu hit. Many expressed surprise about not finding these things on the store shelves. I confess that I was not surprised. I had attempted to buy masks and gloves several years ago. Even then stock was very low, not because people were buying them up, but, I think, because stores don't typically sell much and consequently don't stock much. Wal-Mart only had one choice of masks (and only two or three boxes). I'm sure low supplies sold out in a manner of minutes this past month.

Now that the fervor and fear about the flu has lessened a bit, it may be a good time to stock up for your own preparedness supplies. Many retailers have stated that they requested additional stock. Though it might take a while to arrive, keep your eyes opened for opportunities and maybe even some *sale* prices as retailers clear this inventory if demand wanes.

*Three Month Supply (basic foods that you normally eat) - Having food on hand can allow you to avoid the grocery store and reduce any potential exposure.
*Water Supply - Potentially allows you to stay home and avoid exposure.
*First Aid Kit - Always a good idea to have this around.
*Disinfectants (spray or wipes) - Use these to clean doorknobs, switches, faucet handles, appliance handles, toilet handles, phones and any other commonly used or potentially infected surfaces.
*Bleach - Can be used to disinfect laundry and dishes. Use of a dishwasher and a hot washer AND dryer can also disinfect.
*Masks (N-95) - A mask is most helpful if the SICK person is wearing it. This reduces possible droplet transmission to anyone else in the room/home/location.
*Gloves - For use in treating an infected family member or cleaning infected surfaces. Remove carefully to reduce cross contamination.
*Garbage Bags - for disposal of infected items.
*Prescription Medications - Again, these help you avoid having to go to the store.
*Health Supplies (pain relievers, cold/cough medicines, stomach/diarrhea medications) - Aid the comfort of anyone who is sick.
*"Sick" Foods (fluids with electrolytes, Jello, crackers, applesauce, etc.) - These are good foods for someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.
*Other (surgical gown, waterproof apron, disposable shoe covers, safety goggles or face shield) - These items would be extremely helpful if you are caring for someone who is sick. If you don't have a room that could be used to isolate someone who is sick, some plastic sheeting would also be useful to help you create an isolation area.

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