An idea to promote pandemic awareness

WalMart isn't my favorite store but they have shown one effective way to increase awareness about preparing for a pandemic or any other catastrophe that would interrupt supply chains and routine services. The store had a "free flu prep kit" lottery where entry involved filling out a survey about how much they knew about fllu preparing for flu. The winner was among 350 entries and she is frank to admit she didn't now anything about pandemic flu. That's changed:

Heather Farris says she didn't know much about a pandemic flu before, but now with enough flu supplies to stock a small van, she plans to learn as much as she can.

The Granger resident's mom, Laurie Farris, was the one who entered a contest at the Mishawaka Wal-Mart store to win a pandemic flu kit. She called her daughter to pick up the winnings because she was out of town at the time.

"My mom was telling me about it," Farris said of the virus. "I'm going to learn more." (Southbend Tribune [Indiana])

The "kit" included about $300 worth of household staples (toilet paper, detergent, canned foods, diapers, protein bars, bottled water and toothpaste) and non-perishable food items (the article didn't say what or how much). One can argue about how well chosen or adequate the kit is but the event certainly spread the idea of preparation for an emergency and suggests it's not such a daunting task. $300 is a lot for some people and not for others but the idea that you should have some reserve for essential items will seem reasonable and prudent to a lot of people and a Big Box store like WalMart could easily have a small section devoted to these supplies and starter kits without much trouble.

The idea is credited to the St. Joseph County Health Department and some unnamed (too bad) community groups who thought it was a good way to raise awareness. When people are stocking up for themselves they can also be prompted to think about how they might help others. In our earlier post about the importance of community solidarity, one of our frequent commenters and fellow blogger, Susan Och, remarked that even if you don't want to have contact with others for fear of spreading or catching disease you aren't helpless, for example by checking on neighbors with phone calls or leaving cooked meals on a doorstep. You can, that is, if you know how to get n touch with your neighbors (do you have their phone numbers or email?) and you think about it, maybe even plan a neighborhood distress network.

There are a lot of good ideas out there. The hive mind is more ingenious than the smartest pandemic planner. You can contribute your good ideas (we just showed you two of them, so we know they exist) at The Flu Wiki (here and here).

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Revere,

There are a lot of good people who frequent your board. I don't want to hijack this thread, but I wonder if there is a way to somehow poll preparers to help track down the BEST prep list?

I see things on preparedness lists that I'm not sure I'd consider "essential" in a shorter term emergency situation.

And while having some bottled water is a good idea, we all know that storing more than a few days water needs for a family is a much larger task than a few cases of 16 oz bottled water.

I'd be interesting in your readers reviews of preparedness lists and finding the most practical one, within a budget of say....$300.

However, I know you may prefer your post not be used for this purpose. Is there a forum where this is discussed?

This is good news from WalMart. And now for the bad news. There are 2 clusters of human bird flu in Riau, with 5 victims; and Tangerang,with 4 victims. And in Riau, the latest victim that died was a hospital administrator that supposedly had no contact with birds. When hospital employees start dying, you should worry, because it could mean the disease is contagious by perhaps casual contact. The hospital administrator probably did not have close contact with the sick bird flu victims in his hospital.
And today his wife is hospitalized with suspected bird flu. This means those flu kits from WalMart may be used a lot sooner than you think.
The news from Europe, with possibly infected turkeys in the UK is also not good. Bird flu may now be endemic in birds in Europe, increasing the possibility of human infection. And since a cat in Germany died of bird flu after possibly eating an infected bird, there exists the possibility that more cats could be infected; unless someone has of way to stop cats from eating birds, which I doubt.
WHO has supposedly sent a team to Riau to investigate. I hope they report soon. Just think what may happen if the fatality rate from Indonesia for bird flu, with 91 dead out of the 113 that have become infected; stays constant during a pandemic.

herman: I've been following it via Flu Wiki here. Too early to tell what is happening in IMO, so I'm waiting to see.

I work in a rural family practice. No one is interested in Avian Flu at our clinic besides me. In fact, I dont know anyone other then on the net that is interested. I only brought up awareness at work, no details, and no one wanted to hear of avianflu again.

Herman: How did you find out about the Hosp. Admin. wife was hospitalized with suspected avianflu?

Lyndah

lindah,
Please go to:
http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/
I feel happy to know you are interested in Avian Flu at your clinic. Revere has very important information regarding how we can prepare for a possible pandemic.
This virus is very destructive, and is not well understood by the virologists. It does tremendous damage once it gets into the human body, not only to the lungs, but also to many other organs, and if the mortality rate stays at about 70% during a pandemic, we are in deep trouble. I hope if a pandemic hits, the mortality rate drops to 2% or 3%, as during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918; but from what I have read, the mortality could be much higher.
I sincerely hope this pandemic never hits, but we need to prepare now, in case it does arrive.

For a good "half-personalised" prep list, I'd check http://www.codeready.org You type the number of people in the household (in some broad agegroups) and the length of time you're thinking of, and up comes a printable list with options for food, and a tick-able list of household items. Not all people like or tolerate tuna, so this looks like a good approach. It's also been highlighted at ("promising") pandemicpractices.org

Oh, and hi, reveres! :-)

It helps to know what Bush plans to do if a Pandemic breaks out. In addition, know your county preparedness plan and do they have one in place. It would be great if all the businesses, churches, schools etc. in the county we live in had a plan and if so make sure everyone is on the same page. Again, look at Katrina.

Currently, I dont know anyone besides on the net that has looked online to see what Bushes plan is nor their state and county plans are. We live in the information age, we have access to the net, in short it the responsibility of every legal and non legal citizen to know preparedness plans involving any crisis.

Lastly, I say stop wasting money on culturing the birds. We already know HPAI is spread via migratory birds and the spread will continue. Start culturing patients overseas where HPAI spreading if the patient is symptomatic with flu symptoms. I do the flu surveilance for DHEC/CDC every year, but look at how many clinics dont participate in the surveilance! It should be mandatory given the HPAI spread. I know the medical field is short staffed and overworked, blah, blah, blah...its the who has time...Freakin make the time. To no surprise, non of my fellow nurses are involved in the flu surveilance because NI-Not Interested and extra work. DHEC...MAKE IT MANDATORY! I get frowny faces and grief from the secretaries about dropping off my culture box in the mail, its added work. If it involved Brittney Spears they'd do it in a heart beat! Ive said too much! Thanks to all of you on the net that care and have an interest in H5N1.
Lyndah

...Before 11 p.m. New York time on the last day of October,2008...the world medical community will be widely aware and frantically fighting a disease released from the left hand of God.This disease will possess the ability to alter it's initial genetic sequence.The massive efforts to obstruct -by combat-the march of this malady will not prove fruitful.This is a "designer"disease created to anticipate the vaccines meant to destroy it.It will have an enormous appetite for a small organism.The only way to "defend" oneself at this stage is to prepare to stay inside with one's gatherable loved ones...and all that would be necessary to sustain life for 3 months...in two SEPARATE six weeks stages.

By Greg Blesch (not verified) on 14 Nov 2007 #permalink

Lyndah if you want a list then hit me at memphisservices@bellsouth.net. Just remember the prep list that is the most important is the one that gets you thru it. If you dont then you'll know it was inadequate. I have seen some 25 now and they are all great. But a lot of it is frill stuff. If you get thru it and are not sick and havent gotten so then it was adequate. I have done whole families for 250 bucks. It involves the hard stuff and some last minute stuff that would be perishable otherwise within 4 months, but its like last minute Xmas shopping on that one.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 14 Nov 2007 #permalink