Emergency Preparedness – Are You Ready For A Pandemic or Other Disaster?

I am writing this article while we are waiting to see if a few cases of swine flu will develop into a full-blown pandemic, but the topic certainly applies to any type of other emergency (whether it’s some sort of natural disaster like a hurricane, another medical / epidemic outbreak or anything else that might confine you to your home for a certain period).

I’ve been following the news closely and my first reaction was one of helplessness… after all, what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from a potential flu pandemic. We can’t close the borders, suspend school or quarantine the sick. The more I got to thinking, the more I realized there was quite a bit I could do and taking action made me less fearful. In this article I want to share some of the steps my family and I are taking to make sure we are prepared.

Some of the information I’m going to share with yo came from the CDC (Center of Disease Control). They have an entire section of their website dedicated to swine flu which is worth checking out.

Back to being prepared…

The first part is something your mom has been saying all along (and you probably heard it on the news the past few days as well): Wash your hands frequently. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick.

In addition to washing our hands, I also picked up a couple of travel size hand sanitizers (as well as a large container to refill the small bottles). We are using those whenever washing our hands isn’t an option. I am using the sanitizer while grocery shopping for example if we are at the park.

I looked into making homemade hand sanitizer to see if it would be a less expensive option. While I found a few recipes online, I also came across some information that apparently these homemade sanitizers aren’t as effective since they do not have as much alcohol in them as their store-bought counterparts. The cost of the ingredients for the homemade kind also wasn’t all that far off from what I was able to get at the store. My decision was to buy the hand sanitizer at the store just to be safe.

Let’s talk about what else you should keep in your  pantry. I am starting with what the CDC recommends and then add a few items to it.

Foods and Non-Perishables:

CDC recommendation:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter or nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Bottled water
  • Canned or jarred baby food and formula
  • Pet food

My Add-ons to this list

  • Flour, yeast and whatever else you may need for your favorite homemade bread recipe
  • Quick Cooking Oats for oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Bullion to season soups and beans
  • Canned Meat and Fish
  • Homemade Freezer meals *
  • Lemons, Oranges, apples and other fruit that will keep for a while.
  • Lemon Juice and frozen orange juice concentrate for (both fruit and juices are for extra boosts of vitamin c)
  • Tea and Coffee
  • Plenty of powdered milk (to drink, and cook with … you can make yogurt with it)

* You don’t want to rely stricktly on freezer meals since there is also the potential for losing power with many emergencies, but with a health related one like this potential pandemic outbreak they will come in very handy.

Medical, Health and Emergency Supplies (recommended by the CDC)

  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment
  • Soap and water, or alcohol-based (60-95%) hand wash
  • Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Thermometer
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Vitamins
  • Fluids with electrolytes
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries

I don’t really have anything to add to this other than speak to your health care professional about anything else you should keep on hand. If you have kids, give your prediatrician a call. He can advise you on what over the counter medications you should keep on hand for your child.

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