For the past week, my step-mom has been down with the flu. Late spring is not normally flu season, but it never really goes completely away. Thankfully, she started feeling better yesterday, but it also reminded me to check my flu preps.
Out in the shop, I've got a bin marked with a red electrical tape cross, and a label that says simply, "Pandemic Supplies." I put all this together a couple years ago when the H1N1 hit the news. That ended up being a non-event, but any flu can be bad.
So, what do I have in the flu supply bin?
- About 150 N95 masks - I'm sure most folks know that to stop "most" viruses, a mask needs to be rated N95... a regular dust mask like you might wear mowing the grass during hay fever season won't cut it. Realistically speaking the masks are more effective if the sick person wears it so that it keeps the virus from leaving. The reason we have so many is not that we expect to wear one for 8 or 10 hours a day as we go about our business... they won't hold up that long, and they are uncomfortable. I'm considered "essential personnel" at work and my wife works in a medical office. If there was a pandemic, we'd both have to work. My plan is to wear a mask only when I have direct contact with anyone. My wife would probably need to wear one throughout the day, changing it frequently.
- I have a box of surgical gloves and two boxes of alcohol prep pads - these will be to clean up - wiping down door knobs, sink handles, light switches and the like.
- A big jar of echinacea - this one is getting ready to rotate into the house and get replaced - echinacea is from the purple cone flower, and, taken regularly, can boost immune resistance. Taken in larger doses after becoming symptomatic, it can reduce the severity of the flu (my opinion only, seek a doctor's advice before taking).
- A dozen bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer - these are constantly rotated as we use them at work on a regular basis.
- I originally had a bunch of Gatorade bottles for rehydration in the event of vomiting or diarrhea - I recently got rid of it as it was way past it's expiration date - I need to get a bunch of powdered Gatorade, and vacuum pack it. It will keep much longer, and take up a lot less room.