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October 13, 2005

New to Avian Flu? - Where to Start Your Preparations

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A dear friend from my ladies group (where we are praying for the earth, however ineffectively) called yesterday. She started reading my blog about the avian flu, as media coverage has increased, and she wanted to talk to me in person, since she was experiencing preparation overload/whelm. I think she would qualify as a "newbie" in Peter Sandman's words.

So I decided to write a bare minimum prep list, to ease people into the more complete and obsessive version.

First, kick back with a glass of red wine while you're reading -- that is, if you're over 21, or mature enough to be taking an active stance around this issue. You have just done yourself the favor of introducing resveratrol into your system. Resveratrol is an antiviral. Resveratrol is found in red wine. Have a glass every day until you catch the flu, then alcohol is not recommended. Maybe you want to run out and buy a case of two of your favorite flavors, when you have a minute. Or you could have it delivered. I'm getting way too chatty. I'd better put down my own glass, and get back to work. Here is what I'd gather for a start, assuming that essential services will be interrupted, and you might be stuck in voluntary quarantine for three weeks or more.

Note: the clickies are just for saving time -- mostly places where I've ordered stuff. Feel free to do your own research.

MEDICINE -(antivirals, immune system boosters, symptom relievers, herbal remedies)
. Order Tamiflu or Relenza (on line NOW) if you can afford it, and feel it is morally correct to have it. Ideally you need 30 per person, the usual dose is 2 per day for 5 days, beginning as soon as you have symptoms. Thirty pills are recommended in case the flu sweeps by a few times. You must order now, supplies are very, very short. You can try to get your doctor to write a prescription, but most know nothing about pandemic possibilities, the severe shortage of tamiflu, and are reluctant to give you one. Say you're planning a trip to Indonesia.
. Wheedle at least a month's supply of the current prescription medications you are taking from your insurance company, primary care doctor or HMO. Cry Katrina! Rita! lawsuit! If all else fails, pay for it yourself at an on-line pharmacy.
. While you're at the drugstore stock up on toiletries, ibuprofen, tylenol, cough medicine and theraflu, so you won't have to make a trip later to a place where sick people and their relatives are likely to congregate.

WATER
. Just go get 30 or 40 gallons of spring water at the market, or have it delivered - you can always work on boosting your supply later

FOOD
. Order a case of of MRE's (scroll down to find the flavors --the boys from Louisiana in Iraq recommended the jambalya) Buy some treats at the market that don't need refrigeration (like leftover Halloween candy), or, in lieu of treats, perhaps some antidepressants.

COOKING
. It will be important to be able to boil water without electricity, at the very least (for sanitation, rehydration and Starbucks addictions) so have a campstove and fuel supply. A portable Coleman, a single burner backpacker , a hurricane sort that hooks up to your BBQ propane tank, a cord of wood, a coal stove, a big green egg. I think it might be odious to boil water in a solar oven , but it's worth a try in a pinch

HEATING
. I haven't solved this one yet. Rent a remote cabin in a warm climate. Polar fleece your wardrobe, accumulate down comforters. There are indoor butane heaters on the market, woodstoves and fireplace inserts, but they all require replacement fuel, and probably won't last very long. If there is no electricity, your furnace won't work, even if you have fuel oil.

OFF THE GRID ENTERTAINMENT
. Think three weeks to three months with interrupted electricity. No internet , no DVDs after your battery goes dead. Books, puzzles, arts and crafts, therabands for isometric exercise whatever turns you on without electricity.

LIGHT
. Flashlights, a camping lantern, lots and lots of batteries, or buy the kind you can shake or crank. Candles are for romance, not reading.

INFECTION PROTECTION
. Alcohol wipes/ gel
. swim goggles that seal around your eyes
. face masks (3M 95N respiratiors or nanomasks)
. rubber and vinyl gloves.
. household bleach with spray bottles in which to dilute it to 10% solution and spritz everything that comes in contact with the outside.
. hand soap (not antibacterial)
. laundry detergent
. paper plates

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT OUT
. Dr Grattan Woodson's "Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic" from Fluwiki

START DEVELOPING GOOD HYGIENE HABITS

Photo note: This faux is stenciled in a number of places between MIT and Harvard, I am assuming by a homesick Asian student. Siimplicity itself.

Posted by Dakota at October 13, 2005 11:59 AM