First tip: STAY HOME. If you are sick, whether you think it's the flu or not, stay home. I don't want your germs. You don't want my germs. Let's agree to keep it that way.
Second, learn to wash your hands. Teach your children to wash their hands. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer and spend some time working at cleaning your hands. Germs are invisible, you know. Standard practice for good, clean hands is to sing "Happy Birthday" 3 times while you wash. Not while the soap sits useless on your hands...scrub them bubbles around! After you wash with the sanitizer, wash with plain old fashioned soap and water. The sanitizer isn't going to get all the little areas of your hands. Keep those personal sized bottles of hand sanitizer well, handy, and make sure everyone has one...and uses it.
Use and teach your children good manners. Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing...then wash your hands. Don't wipe your nose with your arm, your hand, your whatever...you folks know who you are :o)
When someone is sick, has a runny nose, etc. the name of the game is Clean, clean clean. Keep surfaces wiped down. A simply mixture of 1 tsp bleach to a gallon of water will keep surfaces sanitized. It will only hold its strength for one day, so you will need to mix a new batch daily. A spray bottle will allow you to clean all surfaces...doorknobs, your house and cell phone (wipe with a towel dampened with the solution...do not spray the phones directly!), wipe the shopping cart at the grocery store...common sense folks. Germs are everywhere.
Prepare to be at home more. You should be at home taking care of business anyway. We all have things we need in town, places to go, things to do, and folks to visit, but learn to find contentment at home more. You can't spread diseases if you are at home. Neither can I. In the event of a true pandemic outbreak, HOME is going to be your safest place.
Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with swine flu viruses are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.See? Right back to practical common sense. Wash your hands often...stay home more.
Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the flu virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
If you were to stay home, how would you fare? Do you have a supply of daily needs to get you through a period of time? Even if you aren't part of the whole Be Prepared lifestyle, you should have at least a month's supply of necessities, minimum. Honestly, 3 months would be even better.
Keep it simple and easy to follow...plan your menu and take those meals and repeat them for the 3 months. A fellow blogger suggests choosing 5 main meals (don't forget you need breakfast and lunch, as well as some snacks...but for case of example, let's use the 5 main meals here...) if your family eats, say spaghetti once a week and it takes 3# of pasta for your meal, you are looking at having 36 boxes on hand. Figure the same way for the other ingredients...sauce, cheese, garlic bread, etc. Now repeat this for other meals and get a plan estimate of what you should have in that pantry for a 3 month stint.
You should, given the number of diseases that make the news (and the ones that don't), have some N95 masks and surgical gloves on hand as well. The "N" stands for NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and the 95 stands for 95% of particles 0.3 microns in size, or larger. They are not perfect, they will not protect from everything, but they are better than a wide open nose and mouth. Folks down here use them all during pollen season while working in their yards, bush hogging, mowing, etc. They are available at just about every hardware store and such, and aren't expensive. If there is even a slight chance they will help, what are you out by getting a few and keeping them handy? Remember the SARS outbreak a few years back? All those media photos that scrolled along the newscasts, those were N95 masks and surgical gloves you were seeing on folks.
Build your immune system and keep it strong. This is an all-around thing to be doing. Eat right (cut out, or at least back, on the packaged crud you already eat and opt for some whole grains, raw fruits and veggies, less red meat), get enough sleep (which means most likely getting more than you are currently getting!)
There are some herbs called adaptogens that work to bring your body back in balance. They help your body adapt to the stresses of every day life which helps strengthen the immune system. Adaptogenic herbs include ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, reishi, ashwaganda and astragalus.
Increase your intake of Vitamin C. This not only boosts your immune system, but in higher dosages has been shown to be an antiviral as well. The recommendation is to dramatically increase your intake at the first sign you may have been exposed to the flu. Search for "the Vitamin C Foundation" to find an effective dosage for you.
Bedtime Needs To Be Strictly Enforced-Children need more sleep than adults. Make sure your child gets a minimum of eight hours each night, even more; Lack of sleep helps to break down the immune system in a hurry.
Make healthy meals for everyone in the family-this can be very challenging if you have a picky eater, but don't let your child dictate to you what they'll eat every day-You are not a restaurant...Your are the parent.
Drink More Water, Less Juice-Toxins build up and can weaken immunity when there's not enough water in the diet. Sugary drinks can actually dehydrate and increase your child's need for water.
Sambucol For Kids (www.sambucol.com) consists of black elderberries, which are unsually rich in antioxidants (They help support the immune system to fight viruses). It tastes good (like grape jam or jelly), is very safe and is specially formulated for ages two and up. Elderberry extract syrup, or Sambucol, has been shown by repeated scientific studies to fight standard strains of influenza. As I discuss in a recent article, elderberry has natural compounds-- which are safe for children and even infants-- that appear to reduce the duration of colds and flu by several days. This means Sambucol is a must-have for surviving pandemic flu.
More importantly, studies of elderberry syrup's efficacy have specifically focused on H5N1 bird flu, one of the core components of the swine flu pandemic's biology. Laboratory trials have confirmed that elderberry extract effectively defeats H5N1 avian flu with up to 99% efficacy. If it has nearly this rate of effectiveness in combating the similar strain of swine flu, Sambucol may prevent fatalities during a swine flu pandemic.
**Note: Nature's Way was the original manufacturer and still makes this product. They sell the same Original Syrup, and now one more syrup called "Black Elderberry Immune System Syrup" but because of patents, are unable to use the brand name Sambucol anymore.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe: To make ANY herbal tincture you just fill a glass jar about 1/3 full of dried herb or 1/2 full of fresh herb, add at least 80 PROOF vodka to the top of the jar, or thereabouts, cap, shake, put in a cool dark place for 7-10 days, strain and viola!! herbal tincture. Very easy, folks have been doing this for 100s of years.
Here is a link to a post with another, more descriptive recipe...post #44
Vitamin D -- Many Americans, especially young children, are alarmingly deficient in vitamin D. In addition to being absolutely essential for the proper function of the bones and central nervous system, vitamin D plays a critical role in enabling the immune system to successfully defeat viruses of all kinds. One 2006 study hit headlines when it concluded that vitamin D is extremely effective in fighting standard influenza strains.
A general PDF on Colds and influenza can be found here.
Bottom line, you can't wait until a flu outbreak or anything else happens close to home to get ready for it. Live right daily, eat healthy and stop buying into the whole sales and marketing hype, treat your body the way you would a fancy Lambourghini...instead of like some second-hand Yugo (I'm not knocking your Yugo...but let's face facts, it's not a Lamboughini, now is it? Even the little mechanic cars in the movie Cars knew class...are you a Ferrari). If you feed your body juk, work it hard and long, skimp on sleep and so forth, you will get sick. No amount of last-minute prevention is going to be of much help to you.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Rather in the same way a penny saved is soon a dollar :o)