Consider buying N95 masks before an outbreak

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

The New York Times explains how to survive a flu epidemic:

“Avoid crowds,” says Stephen C. Redd, director of the Center for Preparedness and Response at the C.D.C. If the flu strain is particularly virulent, you may be advised to keep a distance of at least three feet from other people. Research shows that virus transmission rates can fall by nearly 40 percent with mandatory social-distancing measures like closing schools and day cares. You may also be directed to isolate yourself and your family inside your home, a practice known among emergency-preparedness experts as “shelter in place.” Cache at least two weeks of food, medicine and water.

A global flu pandemic begins when a virus circulating in animals — like birds or pigs — mutates to infect humans, allowing it to spread quickly. In 1918, such an influenza sickened an estimated one-third of the world’s population, killing as many as 50 million people. During the next pandemic, practice cough etiquette (into a tissue or your inner elbow, not your palm); wash your hands regularly (20 seconds with soap and water); avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If someone in your home falls ill, minimize close contact. Designate a sick room. You may want to wear a mask; one of the most effective types for filtering floating flu particles is known as an N95. Consider buying N95 masks before an outbreak. “In a severe pandemic, there will be a global shortage,” says Redd, who served as the C.D.C.’s incident commander during the last flu pandemic, the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

Producing a vaccine for a new influenza strain could take months; when one becomes available, get it as soon as you can, knowing that it will be distributed first to those most at risk. Beware rumors and fake news. “Misinformation online will be a big challenge,” Redd says. Get to know your neighbors and your community now: You’ll need one another’s help. Don’t let fear erode empathy. In 1918, the sick starved to death, not for lack of food but because people were too afraid to get close enough to feed them. “You can bring a meal to a neighbor who is coughing without having face-to-face contact,” Redd says.


  1. Faze says:

    You can drastically reduce your risk of pesky or dangerous sicknesses by NEVER TOUCHING YOUR FACE OR MOUTH, except right after you’ve washed your hands.

    I’m a big hand shaker (have to be, in my job), but you must train yourself not to unconsciously touch your face in the minutes or hours after a hand-shaking session, and make your way to a sink and soap to wash your hands as soon as you can do so in a socially acceptable manner.

    In the era before cell phones, it was just as necessary to remind people not to put their mouths on a pay phone receiver (or any phone receiver). Those things were major disease vectors.

    I worked for many years at a major hospital full of terribly diseased people, and never missed a day of work from a communicable disease, thanks, I believe, to the strict observance of these rules. (I am not by any means OCD. The hand-mouth rule is followed by many in the healthcare business.)

    Idiots are continually comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, but the only thing I can see that the two have in common is a personal aversion to hand shaking. But really, you can shake all the hands you want and never get ill, if you don’t touch your face, and wash your hands at the earliest opportunity.

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