As we continue to hear stories about the spread and monitoring of the H1N1 flu, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone that now is the time to prepare not panic. As with any emergency situation, we are reminded to prepare an emergency kit, have a plan, stay informed and think of how you can help yourself and others.
One of the main differences between preparing for a tornado or a snow storm and preparing for a possible pandemic, is that you need to stock more supplies and have a plan for staying home for a longer period of time. So check your pantry and storage areas and think about what you might need to stay at home for a period of 2 to 3 weeks.
Again, don't panic but make a list and make a plan for what you would do if you needed to stay at home or if your children had to stay home from school for an extended period of time. You can click on a shopping list and two week's worth of easy meals from emergency supplies at Purdue's Disaster & Emergency Management Resources website at extension.purdue.edu/eden/disastertopics/pandemicinfluenza/index.html
Someone said to me last week that the current concern over the spreading flu would probably be more bark than bite, like our concerns a decade ago when we prepared for Y2K. My response is that we should all hope we are that lucky.
Personally, I am certain that the ease with which most of us entered the new millennium was due to the fact that thousands of people did spend a great deal of time working on solutions and preparing ahead so that most of us could avoid any major problems.
Taking steps to prepare for a flu outbreak, like any other emergency, is similar to our need for fire insurance. It is something all of us hope we never need, but few homeowners would consider foregoing insurance on their homes.
Before an emergency occurs is the best time to prepare. And remember most of the things that we do to prepare for a potential emergency are not wasted effort. Even if we don't need the first aid kit or supplies today, we are better prepared for whatever may come tomorrow.
When we listen to the news and see many different kinds of disasters occurring around the world, in other states and even in adjoining counties, how can we think it couldn't happen to us? It is simply prudent to prepare ahead.
So don't panic, but pay attention to the instructions and warnings that our state and national leaders and emergency professionals send out. Wash your hands frequently, make sure your family has an emergency kit at home and in your vehicle, have a plan (where to meet, who would help with child care, etc.), and think about how you can take care of yourself or help your neighbor and get involved to help in the community.
For more information on emergency preparedness, contact the local Red Cross. For the latest information about the current (H1N1) flu outbreak go to www.eden.lsu.edu/influenza or to find out how you can become involved in the local COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), contact Doug Cox at DePauw or Jackie Baumann at the Purdue Extension Service.