While it is impossible to know when, where or how an outbreak of infectious disease will occur, it is important to maintain some level of vigilance and take precautions. Even if the chances of an epidemic in your community are small, planning for these events can be crucial.
Following some simple tips on personal hygiene and staying informed may protect you (and your family) from illness and injury during an outbreak. To help you navigate these potential health challenges, here are five tips for staying prepared.
Prepare Your Emergency Kit
During a crisis that causes schools to close, daily routines to change, or power outages to occur, it is easy for us to put ourselves at risk for a wide range of viruses and bacteria. Keeping a simple first-aid kit in your car, work, or home can help combat minor emergencies before they become significant issues. Some items to keep on hand include:
· Over-the-counter medications such as painkillers and antihistamines
· Personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, tissues, soap, and moist towelettes
· Petroleum jelly or other lubricants
· Important family documents such as bank account information, birth certificates, and insurance papers
· Extra keys for your car and house
· A copy of your emergency plan (if you need to leave home) To make assembling your first-aid kit easier, many companies offer prepackaged kits containing the supplies you need at one low price.
Stay Informed During a Health Crisis
Routine vaccinations are essential to public health and safety, but everyone needs to take precautions during an infectious disease outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone should take time to plan for how their family might respond in the case of a public health emergency.
Practice Good Personal Hygiene
Whether you are preparing for a neighborhood ballgame or planning to survive the zombie apocalypse, it is essential to maintain personal hygiene at all times (both figuratively and literally). Simple steps, such as washing hands often with soap and water, using paper towels or hand dryers to turn off faucets, and avoiding contact with respiratory fluids that may be expelled during a coughing episode can reduce the risk of contracting potentially fatal viruses. If you work at an office and engage with people on a daily basis, purchasing plastic perspex might be smart to prevent someone’s germs from flying straight into your personal space.
Stock Up On Emergency Supplies
While it may be possible to survive several days without food, access to fresh water
is critical. Even if your local grocery store has not closed or experienced interruptions in service, it may be impossible to purchase food and other supplies later if the crisis becomes more widespread.
Know Where to Turn
There may not be time to research where you can seek treatment during a public health crisis or how medical professionals will respond. By visiting the website for your local or state department of health, it may be possible to gain information that would otherwise not be available. During a severe outbreak, even these simple steps could save your life.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.