Preparing for the flu
The worldwide pandemic level for swine flu has been elevated to 5 out of 6 – which means there is an outbreak in at least 2 countries within a continent. Maybe it’s time to really think about preparing for the flu, especially if you have kids. Aside from the general recommendations of protection, e.g. cover your mouth, wash your hands, avoid sick people, etc., here are some real practical tips on how to prepare for the flu:
- Stock up on fluids, from mineral water to juices to tea. Swine flu is similar to the regular seasonal flu in terms of symptoms. And sufficient fluid intake is very important to counteract these symptoms. It might also be a good idea to stock up on your child’s favorite food stuffs to save you the hassle of running to the supermarket. If you are not into online shopping for groceries (like me), maybe it’s about time to check out for a reliable provider.
- Have fever medicine which is also suitable for children ready. This would include paracetamol (e.g. Tylenol) and ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin) which are available over-the-counter (OTC). Read carefully the package inserts of OTC drugs before given them to your child. Check out how to “Treat with Care.”
- Stock up on Kleenex and toilet paper. These essentials are often overlooked but they are just as necessary as disinfectants to maintain hygiene.
- Even if you are breastfeeding, have some milk formula and bottles ready just in case.
- Keep your child at home in case he or she develops symptoms. The key to controlling an epidemic is to minimize transmission. Closely monitor your child’s symptoms. According to pediatricians asked at WebMD, children under two showing symptoms should be checked by a doctor. This also applies to children of any age with other medical problems such as asthma and heart condition. Children over two who are normall healthy shouldn’t necessarily come in unless the symptoms worsen.
- Check that your thermometer is working. Fever is a major symptom and an indicator of severity. For very young children, pediatricians say they use a cut off temperature of 100.8 °F to decide whether a child needs to see a doctor.
- Have a plan. What would you do if your child has to stay home? If his or her school is closed? What sort of childcare contingency plan do you have if you have to work outside the home? What if you yourself fall ill?
- Have some indoor activities ready. You might need extra books, games or DVDs to keep little ones happy while being cooped up at home.
- Keep essential phone numbers ready: your doctor, your pharmacist, aemergency services, neighbour or close relative to call for help.
- Be alert but do not panic or overreact. There is no reason to keep your child away from school and lock yourself in the house unless the health authorities have declared school closure. Most important, it is essential that you keep yourself updated, especially at the local and state level.
Sites to get updates on health advisories:
- Your states’ health services
- The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) swine flu site.
How about you? How are you preparing for the flu?