Friday, September 4, 2009

Is your family prepared?

With all the talk about H1N1 since late Spring, I must admit, I am nervous. Now with school back in session, I feel as if my children are vulnerable and as a result, so are my husband and myself.

Reading statements such as this:

"Evidence from multiple outbreak sites demonstrates that the H1N1 pandemic virus has rapidly established itself and is now the dominant influenza strain in most parts of the world. The pandemic will persist in the coming months as the virus continues to move through susceptible populations." (World Health Organization, Preparing for the second wave: lessons from current outbreaks)
and this:

"Data continue to show that certain medical conditions increase the risk of severe and fatal illness. These include respiratory disease, notably asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and immunosuppression." (World Health Organization, Preparing for the second wave: lessons from current outbreaks)

were enough to get my husband and I talking about what we can do to protect our family, and in the event of illness, how we can be prepared. The statement regarding asthma is what really jumped out at me since my youngest son has asthma. I wanted to be sure that we were accurately informed on how to keep him safe.

I have spent a great deal of time over the past several months reading about H1N1 and thought that I would post some information for you. Knowledge is a good thing. We need to be aware, and we need to be prepared.

According to the CDC:

The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with novel H1N1 flu virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. The high risk groups for novel H1N1 flu are not known at this time, but it’s possible that they may be the same as for seasonal influenza. People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu include people age 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., taking immunosuppressive medications, infected with HIV).

Avoid Contact With Others
If you are sick, you may be ill for a week or longer. You should stay home and keep away from others as much as possible, including avoiding travel and not going to work or school, for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.) If you leave the house to seek medical care, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. In general, you should avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness, especially people at increased risk of severe illness from influenza. With seasonal flu, people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. People infected with the novel H1N1 are likely to have similar patterns of infectiousness as with seasonal flu.

Emergency Warning SignsIf you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
So, how do you protect yourself and your family? Since there is no vaccine available yet (supposedly a vaccine is going to be ready sometime in October), we need to do our best to keep ourselves healthy. There are several things our family is doing.

1. We are keeping informed. My husband and I check the CDC website often. Also, since we are both teachers, we keep ourselves informed of illness in our school districts.
2. We wash our hands often and use alcohol-based hand-sanitizer as well. We remind our boys to wash their hands too.
3. We have taught our boys that if they need to cough or sneeze they are to either do so in a tissue or the inside of their elbow.
4. We are prepared in case we get sick and need to stay home for a week or more. (In our emergency kit: a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs and hand sanitizer, tissues, non-perishable food, and thermometer.)
Keep yourself informed. For reliable and timely information visit
Look for information on your local and state government Web sites. Links are available to each state department of public health at

1 comment:

Theta Mom said...

Fantastic information! My son begins pre-school next week and they stressed the importance of hand washing more than ever now! Thanks for sharing this.

BTW, just found you from Entrecard and I am following. :)