The U.S Government warns:
“An influenza (flu) pandemic is a widespread outbreak of disease that occurs when a new flu virus appears that people have not been exposed to before. Pandemic flu spreads easily from person to person and can cause serious illness because people do not have immunity to the new virus.
“A pandemic may come and go in waves, each of which can last for months at a time. Everyday life could be disrupted due to people in communities across the country becoming ill at the same time. These disruptions could include everything from school and business closings to interruption of basic services such as public transportation and health care. An especially severe influenza pandemic could lead to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
“The Department of Homeland Security views pandemic flu as both the most likely and the most lethal of all threats facing the United States.” (John M Barry, New York Times Best Seller, The Great Influenza, The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, 2005)
“When a pandemic starts, everyone around the world could be at risk.”
“In the last century there were three influenza pandemics. All of them were called pandemics because of their worldwide spread and because they were caused by a new influenza virus. The 1918 pandemic was especially severe. The 1968 pandemic (Hong Kong flu) was the least severe, causing about the same number of deaths as the United States experiences every year with seasonal flu.
- 1918-1919 Most severe, caused at least 500,000 U.S. deaths and up to 40 million deaths worldwide.
- 1957-1958 Moderately severe, caused at least 70,000 U.S. deaths and 1-2 million deaths worldwide.
- 1968-1969 Least severe, caused at least 34,000 U.S. deaths and 700,000 deaths worldwide” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
The U.S. Government currently estimates that a severe pandemic could cause illness in up to 90 million Americans (30% of the population) and result in up to 1.9 million U.S. deaths. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
History shows us that, in addition to its lethal effects, a severe pandemic flu can be expected to cause widespread economic and social disruption. “A pandemic would touch every aspect of society.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
3) How can I prepare for such an event?
“The effects of a pandemic can be lessened if preparations are made ahead of time. The benefits of preparation will be many. Preparation will bring peace of mind and the confidence that we are ready to fight a flu pandemic.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
In preparing for a flu pandemic, it may be helpful to think about three guiding principles. You need to prepare to: Isolate Yourself, Protect Yourself, Treat Yourself.
Isolate Yourself: The best way to avoid infection is to isolate yourself from environments and other people that might be infected. This may mean staying home and away from others (some experts say for 8 weeks or more in a severe pandemic). In a severe pandemic, public officials can be expected to order widespread quarantines (so it may be illegal to leave your home except under emergency circumstances).
Protect Yourself: Should it become necessary to go into public places despite a pandemic situation, it will be critical to protect yourself from infectious germs. History shows that it will not be seen as unusual for people to be wearing face masks, vinyl gloves, eye shields, and other protective clothing in such a situation. Your care to protect yourself may keep you from getting the flu and from spreading it to others.
Treat Yourself: Experts have made it clear that, in a severe pandemic, local hospitals and other medical facilities can be expected to quickly fill to well beyond their capacities. This can happen in a matter of days. This may cause you to have to treat yourself or members of the family at home. In such a case, it will be important to be prepared with basic home treatments for various common flu symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, and muscle pain. These symptoms may be much more severe and complications more serious than with normal seasonal flu.
For further information on preparing for a pandemic, visit the federal government’s official Web site at www.pandemicflu.gov.
Another source for information on pandemic influenza is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hotline at: 1–-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). This line is available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY: 1-888-232-6348. Questions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4) What supplies will help me be prepared?
The U.S. Government makes the following suggestions for supplies that may help you prepare for a pandemic (Pandemic Influenza Planning: A Guide for Individuals and Families)
Supply of water and food. During a pandemic you may not be able to get to a store. Even if you can get to a store, it may be out of supplies. Public waterworks services may also be interrupted. Store foods that are nonperishable (will keep for a long time) and don’t require refrigeration, are easy to prepare in case you are unable to cook, and require little or no water (so you can conserve water for drinking).
Prescription medications and medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment.
Nonprescription drugs and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, anti-diarrheal medication, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins. Also stock medicines and supplies for fevers such as thermometers and acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Flashlights, portable radio, and batteries
Manual can opener (if storing canned food)
Tissues, toilet paper, and disposable diapers
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also recommends the use of N95 face masks, vinyl gloves, eye protection, and hand and surface sanitizers when there is a risk of contact with the germs that may cause bird flu.
For the full list of supplies and suggestions for preparation for pandemic flu, visit www.pandemicflu.gov.
5) How can LifeSecure help me to prepare?
LifeSecure carries many infection protection kits designed using CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidelines to help you prepare for pandemic flu and other potential outbreaks of infectious disease. Click here to see a complete listing.
6) How can I find a government guide to preparing for pandemic flu?
A government guide for pandemic flu preparation (Pandemic Influenza Planning: A Guide for Individuals and Families) is available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.pandemicflu.gov/planguide/
The U.S. Government provides extensive pandemic flu information for families, workplaces and schools at www.pandemicflu.gov