Living Prepared for H1N1

Ok, I admit it.  I believe it is important to be Living Prepared™ for the Influenza A H1N1 virus, and that means I’ve had to stock up on some items that I haven’t had on hand.  I still believe in Don’t Panic first and foremost, but given the warnings of the planet’s leading health authorities, it would be foolish to not take this seriously.

Now, I haven’t gotten the chance yet to blog about recommended household emergency supplies yet, so will do a lot of that on the fly and we’ll reconvene on those issues in coming posts.  And we should also review the list of things that one should never leave home without, as during a declared pandemic (alert level 5), which we are now facing, there are one or two additions to this list that come to mind – i.e. hand sanitizer and tissues.

Sanity Check

But to return to a sanity check -I wanted to comment on the most recent facts about the H1N1 / Swine Flu outbreak.

This morning, I received a notice from my daughter’s school, explaining how the school was responding to the Swine Influenza outbreak.  I sent the following note back to school parents in response:

As an emergency management professional, I consulted just over a year ago with the City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene to review the City’s bio-incident response plan and found an extremely high skill level of individuals at the agency, which is well-prepared and fully capable of protecting the health of the residents of this City through its biosurveillance program, health lab and relationship with CDC.

There is no need to panic.  Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics annually, infecting millions and resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually.  According to the CDC:

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
  • about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

Despite the attention and concern over the H1N1 virus, I don’t feel that there is any evidence yet that this strain is particularly dangerous or spreading throughout the general population.  The latest global statistics (as compiled by the World Health Organization on April 30, 2009) are this:  There are 11 countries that have officially reported 257 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.  There are only 97 confirmed cases in Mexico, with 7 deaths, and 109 confirmed cases in the US, with 1 death.  CDC and WHO expect the virus to continue to spread and for more confirmed cases to become known as lab results are completed, but in the context of seasonal flu, again, there is no need to panic.

According to a May 1 AP article, Mexico has now raised the confirmed swine flu death toll from 15 to 16, with a total confirmed number of cases of 397.

There are now more than 400 schools closed in the USThe U.S. Department of Education has said that 433 schools are closed, affecting 245,000 children in 17 states.  All this precaution for 140 confirmed U.S. cases as of today.  Really?  Are we panicking now?

H1N1 Info from NYC.gov

Two more excellent source of information about protecting yourself from Influenza came out today from the City of New York.  (I tweeted on this earlier today).  First, the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DoHMH) released the following document for employers: Guidance for Preventing Transmission of H1N1 Influenza in the Workplace.  Also, the City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has posted PDF versions of the recently released Ready New York Pandemic Flu guide (available in 14 languages) on its website.

H1N1 Preparedness

Back to the main topic, that is Living Prepared™ for the Influenza A H1N1 virus.

I’ve recently done some online and in store procurement of items I did not have in stock.  As mentioned in previous posts, we’re currently undergoing a renovation of our brownstone and my household emergency stocks are seriously depleted or in storage.  So I am somewhat having to start from scratch in building my household emergency supplies.  This is not good.

Anyway, I decided to order from LifeSecure Emergency Solutions the following:

  • N95 Respirator Facemasks (though I’ve become convinced that these are fairly useless; I’ll get to that in a coming post)
  • Hand & Surface Sanitizer (you can never have enough of this)
  • Eye Shield Protection Pack (2 frames, a bunch of clear lenses; I have clear glasses but wanted an extra and for spouse)
  • Antimicrobial Wipes (you can never have enough of these either)
  • Food bars

By the way, LifeSecure’s David Scott has recently blogged a fine article on H1N1 preparedness that everyone should read.

At local pharmacies and grocery stores, I have picked up:

  • Additional hand sanitizer (Purell or any equivalent of over 60% alcohol content) in various bottle sizes
  • Foaming hand wash (Method)
  • Lysol spray (mostly for my smelly cat’s litter box, but also for surface and general disinfecting)
  • Disinfecting surface wipes

I’m still short on bottled water – though I haven’t quite figured out how H1N1 is going to affect adversely the public water supply… but I need to get enough for my family of four for three days at least.  A trip to Costco is on order for the next few days.

So am I Living Prepared™ for the Influenza A H1N1 virus now?

More updates to follow.

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