Preparing for a possible pandemic

With the world facing the risk of a pandemic, it’s worth knowing in advance what you can or should do if a pandemic occurs.

First Priority: Reduce Your Risk of Catching or Spreading Influenza

  • Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Dispose of dirty tissues promptly and carefully – bagging and binning them
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water, or by rubbing hands with an alcohol hand rub, to reduce the spread of the virus from the hands to the face or to other people and surfaces, particularly after blowing the nose or disposing of tissues
  • Avoid touching the face (eyes, nose and mouth) with contaminated hands
  • Teach children to practice all of the above
  • Clean frequently touched hard surfaces at home and in the workplace (counter tops, desks tops, door knobs, light switches) using regular household cleaning products
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between people at work, in the community, on public transport, and in school settings
  • Avoid crowded gatherings where ever possible, especially in enclosed spaces
  • Reduce social density at work
  • Promote annual seasonal influenza vaccination among employees
  • Stay at home if ill

Source: Government of Western Australia pandemic preparation plans

Priority 2: Prepare for Disruptions

Among the disruptions that might occur during a pandemic, according to Health Canada:

While no one can say with any certainty how a pandemic of a new influenza virus may affect individuals and communities, public health planners and governments have thought it wise to make plans that take into account the potential for significant disruptions. Because such plans are not dis-similar to preparations any person or community should make to prepare for any type of disaster, it is wise for individuals to make plans to prepare for significant disruptions to the normal fabric of life over a time frame of 10 days to two weeks.

(i) Emergency Supplies (10 days – two weeks)

  • Other: Batteries, candles, matches, flashlights, portable radio
  • Food and Water: Bottled water; canned fruits, vegetables, meats, dry cereals, protein and granola snacks
  • Health Supplies: Supplies of those medications you and your family need to manage regular or chronic health conditions

(ii) Local Travel

  • Those who rely on public transport should develop alternate commuting plans in the case local transportation is disrupted or modified.
  • Those who rely on car pools should have alternate plans in case car pool membership is affected.

(iii) Schools and Other Institutions

  • Public health authorities may ask schools and day cares to curtail operations during pandemics to limit transmission of virus through children.
  • Schools and day cares may have limited availability due to staff illness; and
  • Families should develop alternate care plans for children particularly if parents are involved in essential work.

(iv) Work

  • Businesses and institutions with a density of employees or regular access to the public at large are more vulnerable than others to disruption during disasters and pandemics;
  • Determine if your employer has a business continuity plan (BCP) in the case of disaster or pandemic and identify your role in this plan; and
  • Discuss with your employer the possibility of work at home plans in the case of workplace disruption or illness within your family in which you might become primary caregiver.
  • Unlike typical disasters, the identification of the creation of a pandemic will probably occur days and even weeks before its impact begins to be felt. With this identification, governments, institutions and businesses will intensify their planning for anticipated consequences. Pay attention to media reports of announcements of these contingency plans and make note of them in your own preparations and planning.

About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

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