Bird Flu

I personally consider avian flu (H5N1) to be very over-hyped right now.  We’ve been hearing all sorts of nasty things about how this could turn into the next Spanish Flu epidmeic for a couple of years now, and while it’s on the move, it still hasn’t mutated to the point where it can easily jump from one human to another.  Maybe it’ll happen one day, maybe it wont.

Regardless of what it may or may not do, it’s got a lot of people worried, especially in the Federal government.  George Ure wrote a short post last week about H5N1, more specifically about the US government’s plans for dealing with it or a similar outbreak.  If you haven’t been to the www.pandemicflu.gov site yet, you should check it out, specifically the recommended plans for individuals and families.   Based on what the Feds are telling us, if there is a major outbreak of avian flu or any other kind of epidemic, large chunks of the USA could be put into lockdown for a prolonged period of a week or more.   Schools would be closed, offices may or may not be closed, most if not all governmental offices and places of business would close.   What would you do if you couldn’t get to the store for a week or longer?  Would you have enough food, water and medecine to last?

My workplace recently rolled out their H5N1 plan (no, I couldn’t believe they spent time & money on creating one either).  If the office is open, we’d all have to wear facemasks unless we were at our desks.  Meetings would be teleconference only, and as many people would work from home as possible.   As an added safeguard, they have installed hand sanitizer stations at all restrooms and breakrooms.    That would probably be the one time of the year when the boss would insist I go home if I had a small cough or something similar.

Anyway I digress.  Whether we actually get hit with a major outbreak of some sort is almost secondary to the point.  If some jittery official in D.C hears a rumor about something coming our way, they may overreact and put out a public alarm.  Odds are good the main result of that would be a run on food, medecine, fuel, etc.  Since most  stores really have about 3-4 days’ worth of product on the shelves at any given time, they’d get cleared out really fast.  So, what would your plan be?  Are you prepared?

For what it’s worth, I’m not suggesting we all go out and start hoarding smack ramen and easy mac now.  We’ll likely have some warning that badness is coming our way.  My point is that we all should think about where we rely on the system the most, and have some sort of plan as to how we’d deal with a problem like H5N1.   The goverment is thinking about such things, and from the looks of it things wouldn’t be pretty.   Pay attention to the news, and don’t wait for the government to tell you there’s a problem.  By then it’ll be too late.

Now, where in the hell am I going to put that case of Purell?

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3 Responses to Bird Flu

  1. Dan says:

    I was a business continuity coordinator (disaster recovery) over a lot of people and buildings for my company and flu preparedness-avian and otherwise-is a hot topic right now in that realm. They speculate we are due for a Spanish influenza style outbreak any time now and estimate up to 30% of all people will be out of commission. Personally, I think things like these, however overblown they may come off as, are a good impetus to get people thinking about and preparing for a major distrubance to normal life. We live in a Just in Time delivery world and sometimes we need a wake up call to how things really work. Case in point, a co-worker from the Twin Cities doesn’t even have an emergency winter survival kit for her car and she has 2 small children that she travels with frequently!

    Personally I prefer good old fashion, non-scented bleach versus Purell in an emergency. You can wash clothes and dishes with it and can dilute it further to use as a hand sanitizer in a pinch. Keep the Purell though, it will be a good barter item.

  2. Bart says:

    For what it’s worth, the crack about the Purell was a joke. I’ve got a few bottles, but that’ more because I’ve got small ones at home who get into the nastiest things…

    Your point about getting people to think fits nicely with the post. The just-in-time system is very efficient, but also very vulnerable to shocks. The poor folks in New Orleans found that out the hard way. Having a plan is always the best way to go.

  3. Dan says:

    I figured out it was a joke after I submitted my comment. D’oh! Flew right over my head.

    I think the big guys in DC are spooked over the flu thing. Our company gave everyone a bottle of Purell and some blub about personal hygiene in the cold and flu season at the start of winter. The business continuity coordinator has made references to the flu recently and also forwarded on a survey from the county public health department that dealt with home disaster preparedness planning. I think it’s time to review my plan and update it if necessary.

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