Emergency preparedness makes good sense in light of flu outbreak

I admit that I spent some time on the weekend preparing an emergency kit in the event disaster strikes — perhaps in the form of a full-fledged pandemic.

I admit that I spent some time on the weekend preparing an emergency kit in the event disaster strikes — perhaps in the form of a full-fledged pandemic.

But don’t anyone panic — only a handful of cases of swine flu in Canada have shown up so far, none fatal, all described as relatively mild. And there have been no cases reported in Alberta yet.

There should be plenty of time to take action in the event things do start to happen here.

As I watched the swine flu story change by the hour on Sunday, it reminded me of last fall’s signs that our economy was headed for trouble. No one really seemed to grasp it, or admit to it.

And then bang, the economy went south. People were left with a sense of helplessness. Many are still reeling over how quickly things changed.

But that was the economy. This is different. This is your health. As individuals, we very much can do something.

Local health and school board authorities have been preparing for a pandemic for some years. Health experts have said it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

Is this the when? This particular flu strain has never been seen before. It’s a combination of two strains of swine flu, one of bird flu and one of human flu.

A pandemic has not been declared, but the U.S. government said Monday it was preparing as though this outbreak were a full pandemic, even though only about 40 cases in the U.S. had surfaced.

In Mexico, the apparent epicentre of the outbreak, 150 deaths are suspected to be related to swine flu. Another 2,000 people are believed to have become ill in Mexico. Schools across the entire country are closed, as are other public venues.

On Monday the World Health Organization moved the six-level pandemic alert scale from Phase 3 to Phase 4. Phase 6 is a full pandemic. Phase 4 doesn’t mean a pandemic is inevitable. But the concern is that over time a mild virus can mutate and mutate into something much more serious.

You can take individual action to help stop the spread of swine flu.

At the top of the list — wash your hands.

If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home. Health Link Alberta, which offers free health advice information 24-7, is 1-866-408-5465.

Wherever you are, and especially when around a group of people, cover your coughs and sneezes. If things got worse, and schools were closed, do you have a backup child-care plan?

And, maybe it’s time for people to put together their 72-hour emergency kits. This is not panic — this is good sense. Local authorities having been urging us for awhile to be prepared in the event of a disaster — flood, ice storm, tornado or pandemic. Coincidentally, next week is Emergency Preparedness Week.

The simplest way to prepare for an emergency is to go to Public Safety Canada’s website where information to create a personal emergency plan is available, as well as a list of items people should have ready, such as extra water, flashlights, canned food, a manual can opener and blankets.

Go to Public Safety Canada’s www.getprepared.ca for more information. If you’re not internet savvy, you can call 1-800-622-6232.

Finally, don’t succumb to the ridiculous notion that eating pork or pork products will give you swine flu. It won’t.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at barr@bprda.wpengine.com or by phone at 403-314-4332.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New snow clearing triggers in effect in Red Deer

Residents encouraged to sign up for alerts

Requests for Lending Cupboard equipment grows

Winter Luncheon fundraisier to be held Jan. 27

Jason Kenney government receives ‘B-’ for cutting red tape: Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses

Alberta government receives highest grade on CFIB’s red tape report card

Tax revolt? Taxes energy companies owe Alberta municipalities more than double

The amount of unpaid property taxes that oil and gas companies owe… Continue reading

Edmonton liquor store looks to ID-scanning technology to combat thefts

EDMONTON — An Edmonton-based retailer of wine, liquor, beer and cannabis is… Continue reading

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Lineups outside grocery stores in St. John’s as state of emergency hits Day 5

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Residents of St. John’s, N.L., were lining up… Continue reading

Prison watchdog decries ‘Indigenization’ of Canada’s correctional system

OTTAWA — Canada’s prison ombudsman says disturbing and entrenched imbalances mean the… Continue reading

Parks Canada says no to gondola proposed from Banff townsite to Mount Norquay

BANFF, Alta. — Parks Canada has rejected a proposed gondola to take… Continue reading

CFL reaches co-operative partnership agreement with Brazilian federation

TORONTO — Add Brazil to the CFL 2.0 initiative. The league announced… Continue reading

David Marsden: Warm tales about the cold

The recent deep freeze has rocked all of us. Every Red Deer… Continue reading

Richard T. Lee makes British Open, joining fellow Canadians Conners and Hadwin

SINGAPORE — Toronto’s Richard T. Lee is the third Canadian to qualify… Continue reading

Film probes radical black-Latino-poor white 1960s alliance

Civil rights activists were still mourning the 1968 assassinations of Rev. Martin… Continue reading

Most Read