Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Concrete Steps - First, gather info and assess

The other day I wrote about what to do under stress. The first Rule is Don't Panic. Second Rule is Breathe. I wrote a bit about the next steps, and this post will give more detailed suggestions.

First of all, I'm not a worrier. I pay attention, I get concerned, but worry does not rule my life. I have, in the past, had anxiety problems, but no more. It's a different topic, but a crucial one for being able to plan for your family. Don't let fear overtake or immobilize you.

Rule 1 - Don't panic.
Rule 2 - Breathe. Separate what you can change from what you cannot change.

Step 1 - Assess your situation, gather information
Step 2 - Create an emergency plan
Step 3 - Create an action plan (to be prepared)
Step 4 - Prioritize action plan.
Step 5 - Do your action plan (get prepared),
Step 6 - Review and see if you missed anything, continue to gather info, adjust your plans as needed
Step 7 - See what else you can do for your community

Before you start: Separate things you can do something about from things you cannot. This is a matter of habitual discipline for me. I cannot change that a baby died from the flu, that many are in a panic in Mexico City or that my oldest children live in TN.

I can choose to respond rather than react and do what I need to do for myself, my children and my friends. Once that is all together, I can volunteer for my community.

Remember, as they say on every flight, if you are with a small child (or taking care of others) PUT THE OXYGEN MASK OVER YOUR OWN FACE FIRST. Don't try to care for any one else before you take care of your own basic needs. This is about doing the most good, being on your game, not being selfish. It's just common sense people (in the voice of my favorite English Teacher of all time, Ms. Griffo) (lol).

Use discipline to focus on what needs to be done, plan and prioritize.

Spend some time each day listening to experts on the POTENTIAL flu pandemic. This is a key part of gathering information so you can make better decisions. Solid facts lead to plans that make sense.

For instance, I didn't know or forgot that alcohol doesn't kill viruses. I thought it killed everything! Alcohol hand washes are helpful but not fool-proof. But I remembered that soap and hot water kill the AIDS virus, and that AIDS is a very unstable virus outside of a human. So now I'd like to know if the same is true of the H1-N1 flu virus that we are now facing.

I also remembered a report recently on an extensive study of sneezing, and that subjects were instructed to sneeze on their fellow card players (yuk!) and there was no significant increase in the spread of colds. It was fascinating that they also had the other players touch their noses and faces in a scheduled way, and this also didn't increase the transmission of the virus. Very interesting. Something I'll look up further.

I know more than most about the 1918 flu epidemic but I keep listening to gather more info.
  1. It was the very first time we had ever encountered an H1-N1 virus (the type we are now facing.
  2. We did not have antibiotics available en masse, nor did we have any flu vaccines.
  3. Communication methods were relatively slow, data was difficult to gather and manage
  4. World War 1 effectively ended because so many people died. Soldiers coming home spread the virus globally
  5. Now we are in a much better position in almost every way.
Because I have done my homework there is no reason to think this will be as bad, at least not in the same ways. So scare tactics by so called "experts" when they compare this virus to that one, are worse than misleading. It's bullshit.

Today I'm researching the local authorities' plans for pandemics. Doesn't look great yet for St. Louis, (found a draft dated 2006) but you can search for your own city's plan.

I found this article with a nice excerpt on getting prepared:
How Individuals Can Prepare
  • Stock Up: Store nonperishable foods, bottled water, medicine, health supplies and other necessities. A two-week supply of food and a three-day supply of water is recommended in the event of a pandemic. These supplies can also be useful in other emergencies, such as power outages. See checklist below.
  • Practice Good Health Habits: Wash your hands with soap and water frequently during the day. Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Plan Ahead: Consider what you would do if you could not go to work, schools were cancelled, or a family member became sick and needed care. Make sure your family knows your plan, and ask about emergency plans at your work and child's school.
  • Stay Informed: Keep plugged-in to local media reports, as well as public health officials like the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the American Red Cross.
Some info I knew, some was reminders, and bingo, I found a list of things to make sure are on hand. I remembered that the Red Cross will be instrumental and may need volunteers. Also this link is great for a clear information. (Note that the tabs, Overview, Facts, Plan, etc for each section are in light grey just under the blue "Pandemic Flu" banner or graphic - not so easy to find on the page.)

I will also be turning to FlyLady to gather personal information, useful during any emergency.

A few years ago, I made a family plan for any crisis. It was similar to what you do when you are teaching your children how to respond to a fire. What do you do first, where do you go, who do you call. What do you do if Plan A fails?? It helped me tremendously during the Y2K scare, (which didn't actually scare me much) and after 9/11. Similar to making my will, it gave me great peace of mind. I kept it for years, and loved the way it came together for me.

Here is a link for creating your own plan.

Another surprisingly good source of information is the National PTA flu website. They are already setting up clinics and have lots of good info for us.

So this is the first step, in detail. Assess the situation, gather information. Continue to do this throughout the planning process, which is your next step.

If you are ready for step two, planning, move on. I'll keep writing on these steps. (It's nice to do something with the disaster training I've had.)

Keep coming back. And keep praying. G-d likes to hear from you.

Shalom and Peace out :)

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