Keeping an Emergency Flu Survival Kit
With recent Swine and Bird Flu scares, and the possibility of more or worse in the future, you may want to prepare for an outbreak with your own Emergency Flu Survival Kit. A serious outbreak would cause a shortage of supplies and could confine you to your house or another location for up to two weeks. Even if you don't buy into the pandemic hype, preparing yourself with necessary items can help you have supplies on hand in regular bouts of illness. You can buy ready-made kits in several places (check emergency preparedness or survival stores, as well as various online sites), but it might be cheaper and more catered to the specific needs of you and your family to put one together yourself. A basic kit includes a few everyday items (plan enough for two weeks, or at least three days):
- Water (one gallon per person per day). Water is necessary for both drinking and washing.
- Two weeks of non-perishable food (sauerkraut and grape juice in particular have been shown in laboratory tests to speed flu recovery). Choose food that you and your family will actually eat and enjoy.
- Batteries, flashlights, and a battery-operated radio. Make sure you also supply a manual can opener.
- Personal care and hygiene products such as soap and toilet paper. Also include extras of any prescription medications you or your family would require.
- Electrolyte fluids (Gatorade, Powerade, or Vitamin Water). These fluids contain replenishing electrolytes that will help your body recover more quickly than water alone.
- Medications such as fever reducers (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen) and cough and cold medication (chlorpheniramine, dephenyhydramine, pseudoephedrine). Oscillococcinum is a medication made from diluted flu virus that can help if you take it within 24 hours of flu-like symptoms.
- Hot/cold pack. An external pack can help regulate body temperatures without mixing with medications.
- Hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol), disposable tissues, and several face masks (N95) can aid in prevention and keeping germs of an already infected person from spreading more.
- Extras: You might also want to consider a general first aid kit, an informational book or internet printouts on what to do in a flu outbreak (try pandemic books by Marc Siegel), cash and copies of important identification documents, extra car keys, throat lozenges and/or herbal teas to help the sick person feel more comfortable, and games or books for entertainment if extended confinement becomes necessary.
To maintain your Emergency Flu Survival Kit, occasionally check expiration dates and rotate through food or medications that will expire soon. Keep your kit in a portable container in case you need to evacuate. A backpack or container kept in your car is a good place to store your kit.
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