November 16, 2009

Prepare Your Home for the Flu

There is one surefire way to appreciate the normal chaos of family life–get the flu. Whether it’s a parent or a child who becomes sick, getting laid out by the flu means a big change in everyday routines like getting ready for school, getting to work and cooking dinner.

Don't get stuck scrambling when someone in your household gets the flu. Take these 10 steps today to prepare:

Stock Up on These Supplies

Do you have enough food, drinks and pet food to last a few days should you find yourself house-bound? Pick your family's favorites, but good choices of foods that last are canned soup, cereal, beef jerky, canned tuna, canned fruits and vegetables, granola bars, boxed meals like mac 'n cheese, and electrolyte drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte. Also consider extra hand soap, tissues, paper towels and facemasks.

Stock the Right Medicines for the Flu

The CDC recommends antiviral medications to treat the flu, and these can only be prescribed by a doctor. The medicines you can stock in your home now are those that treat symptoms of the flu, like fever. Fever-reducing medicines are those like acetaminophen (Tylenol,) ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin or Nuprin) or naproxin (Aleve.) Make sure your supply is not past the expiration date, and you have children's versions on hand. Do NOT give aspirin to kids or teenagers who have the flu to avoid Reye's syndrome.

Get Activities to Occupy Sick Kids

The first few days of the flu might mean NO activity. But eventually, the kids will be looking for something to do but not yet ready for school. Keep boredom at bay with a stash of bed-worthy activities like new books, schoolwork, games or videos to pass the time.

Pick the Quarantine Room

Is there a room in your house where the sick person can be kept away from the healthy ones? This is especially important if someone in your house is at high risk of complications from the flu. If you don't have a guest bedroom, use a child's own room (if not shared) or the least-used part of the house.

Know How the Flu Spreads

Keep the flu from spreading through your family. Coughing or sneezing onto another person or onto a surface that someone else touches are the top ways that the flu virus is transmitted. Cover coughs and sneezes and wash hands frequently.

Find Out Who Can Work from Home

Does at least one adult in your home have the flexibility to work from home or not work to care for a sick child? This may depend on the work situation at the time, but it's worthwhile asking management about options before you need them.

Sign up a Friend or Family Member

There is a good chance you will need some help with childcare or transportation if one or both adults get the flu. Asking now means you won't have to worry about when you least feel like it.

Write Down Important Contacts

Make a contact list on paper of local family, friends, doctors, hospitals and emergency clinics. Put the list in your house and in your phone.

Know the Flu Emergency Warning Signs

The flu is never a walk in the park. But there are some signs that mean you should call the doctor right away for more medical help than you can provide at home. Learn the Flu Emergency Warning Signs.

Find Out Your Emergency Plan

This may sound extreme. However, your city (and maybe your neighborhood) and your kids' school likely has a plan in place for disasters, including the flu pandemic. It's a good idea to know what to do to be prepared and where to turn in case of a health emergency.

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