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The Best Prep for Bird Flu

The idea of bird flu hitting U.S. shores can be scary. WebMD tells you how to do your part to prepare for the worst.

Home Care May Be Crucial continued...

The well people will take care of the sick. And a lot of this care will probably be done at home.

"This is flu," Woodson says. "You can do a lot of care for people using low-tech means."

On its web site, the CDC lists supplies to have on hand, including over-the-counter painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for headaches and muscle pain, and antidiarrheal medicine. Plenty of cleansing agents, such as hand cleaners and detergent, also are listed.

The CDC recommends stocking nonperishables such as:

  • Canned foods
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal
  • Dried fruit
  • Bottled water
  • Baby food
  • Pet food

Also on the CDC list: flashlights, batteries, portable radio, manual can opener, garbage bags, diapers, and toilet paper.

Skinner recommends having a supply of your prescription drugs as well.

To these Woodson would add crackers, Gatorade, and other foods good for sickness.

"I think stockpiling is a grand idea," says planner Kalina. Skinner says he has large stocks of canned food and bottled water at home.

Woodson also says some people might also want to consider:

  • An alternative power source
  • Organizing your neighborhood. If everyone in a house is sick, Woodson says, would the neighbors help out -- or could you help them? He also has bought some medical supplies not only for his family, but his neighbors.

Could Your Family Members Die?

Even without a "Mad Max" scenario with the breakdown of society, Woodson says many people, perhaps the young and the elderly, may not be able to fight off the virus and will weaken within a few days.

Well people should steer clear of the sick if possible.

Skinner urges that well children be kept away from sick kids. Kids should also cover their coughsand wash their hands frequently. This goes for adults, too. The time to start this training is now.

"Of 100 people, only three will die with proper at-home care, in my opinion," Woodson says.

Too Scary to Contemplate?

Is all this too horrible to think about?

"Come on," Woodson scolds. "The United States is a frontier country. We live a fancy life, but we all have ancestors who experienced this sort of thing. Physicians need to teach their patients what to do at home. Taking care of people there is pretty simple: Rehydrate, keep them clean and warm, and give them painkillers. If you get sick, have someone else to step in."

"We are just asking for commonsense preparedness," Skinner says.

Star Lawrence is a medical journalist based in the Phoenix area.

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