The first line of defense against a potential flu pandemic should be to vaccinate the population to try to control the disease, and at this time there isn’t going to be a pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a strategic way to prepare for such an eventuality. While the highly dangerous avian flu strain has not yet made its way to the United States, an outbreak could still hit, as it has already in China and Japan. [Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly indicated that the avian flu strain H7N9 is still circulating in China.] While you probably can’t predict when the flu will strike, you can probably start preparing now.
What if you live in a state where the situation is extremely critical? You’re in a situation where you don’t know if you’ll make it until Tuesday morning or not, and you don’t have that luxury of time with an outbreak. Given the level of fear that you might experience, you’re likely going to need to start exercising. If you’re lucky, that’s going to be with your family, but if you’re unlucky, you’re going to need to start getting physical.
You may find that your neighbors, particularly those who may be more mobile or medically fragile, may come up with different ideas. In fact, some places already have been identifying volunteers for a special community walk, called the walk to mass, and calling for the public to join in a demonstration.
Getting out with an ambulance to a designated area is one thing; but what if you have to take a bus to work, train to school, or go about your normal daily routine? If you can, you might want to practice staying hydrated by drinking water regularly. If you’re already seeing symptoms — the change in breath or the tired feeling — you can get to a location where a trained official is available to dispense guidance and guidance on finding shelter, and possibly locating a telephone. Then, in case you get sick, you won’t have to stand on line waiting for a tetanus shot or a flu shot.
If you want to keep practicing your physical activities, put an “Oh no!” on your calendar and prepare a printout of all the activities you can do in the event of a pandemic. The list should be printed out and kept in your wallet or purse. You should update the list regularly as new information or activities pop up. It would be helpful to get a tablet, such as one made by Fitbit or something similar, to record your steps and similar activity data.
You can also design your list for other flu-related diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever. You may need to take these activities more seriously too — even just walking around a gym or taking a walk around the block to get a drink of water is not always enough to protect you. Especially since you may want to plan to stay longer in a sheltered and protected place during the flu season, if you have to get to work and have company on your way in. You may also need to pack a hand sanitizer, so that you won’t be dealing with your germs by yourself.
There are also cell phones that can also save you from coming down with your own flu-like symptoms in the event of a pandemic — if you do in fact notice a fever and other related ailments on your last morning shift at work, you can message your cell phone for help. You can also text your doctor the same exact information.