National Consumers League

Preparing for a Pandemic – Swine Flu 101


By Mimi Johnson A little more than a week after the first announcements of the H1N1 flu (swine flu) hitting the United States, it seems the virus has now spread throughout much of the country. Though it now appears to be a milder flu than was initially expected, we still need to act with good judgment (and hygiene) to help keep this virus at bay! Some things to consider:

  • If you or a member of your household is diagnosed with the H1N1 flu virus, notify employers and schools as soon as possible.
  • If you or a member of your household is feeling sick or exhibiting flu-like symptoms, do not go to school or work. You should also limit the contact you (and your sick household) has with others.
Some measures YOU can take to prevent yourself from getting the flu:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (or your elbow) when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue away immediately after using it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water — especially after you cough or sneeze, touch communal handrails, door knobs, etc., or before you eat; alcohol-based hand cleaners or wipes will also do the trick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. That’s how germs spread.
The flu is thought to spread mainly person-to-person, so preventing the spread of germs is your #1 defense! Some things you shouldn’t do: Time Magazine has put together this helpful list of Top 5 Swine Flu don’ts. You should continue to stay informed – check your local news and health departments to learn about the flu in your region.  Also, check the CDC’s H1N1 Web site for the most current and detailed official information. On the off-chance that the flu situation causes closures of schools, work, and points of service like grocery stores, restaurants, etc., the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. “This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.”