A pandemic, or the outbreak of an infectious or contagious disease in a large geographic area and affecting a high proportion of the human population, poses great threats to people and the community. It is an outbreak that could inevitably lead to changes in many aspects of society such as work, infrastructure, schools, health systems and public services.
A number of pandemics have occurred throughout history, such as cholera, smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS, but one of the most common is influenza. The most recent cases of pandemics include the H5N1 avian flu or the bird flu in 2004 and the flu pandemic caused by the influenza A H1N1 virus in 2009.
A pandemic may cause serious illness or worse, even death. The mere thought of the possibility of a pandemic can truly be frightening, leaving individuals feeling vulnerable and helpless. However, there are a lot of precautions that you can take in order to protect yourself and your family. It is important to learn the basics to ensure your preparedness when a pandemic, or even only an epidemic, the rapid spread of a disease that simultaneously affects a number of people in a community or region, occurs. The following can help you increase your chances of survival:
- Maintain healthy habits. Make it a habit to eat a balanced diet that includes nutritious foods such as vegetables and fruits, exercise regularly and get enough rest and sleep every day.
- Practice hygienic habits. It will be helpful to stop the spread of germs by washing your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Practice respiratory etiquette by covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Also, avoid making contact with sick people, and likewise stay away from others when you are sick.
- Be protected through vaccine. Since some diseases can be prevented, such as the seasonal flu, it is advisable that you get a shot of vaccine so you are protected against certain types of virus.
- Be informed about the various kinds of diseases. It will be a great benefit that you have sufficient information regarding the signs and symptoms of a certain disease outbreak so you can detect the virus during the early stage of development. Consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website frequently for updates on national or international health issues. Monitor the media, including radio, television and newspaper about pandemic cases.
- Create family emergency plans. Planning what to do during an emergency and during a pandemic will guide you on where to go, who to contact and how to get in touch with each other.
- Keep an emergency kit. In case a pandemic limits you from going out of your home, it is wise that you keep a kit that includes everything you need such as a flashlight, personal care products such as toiletry, medicines and, of course, food and drinking water.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. As people are now more prone to new diseases as the world continues to become globalized, it is important that utmost care should always be taken. We need to prepare ourselves so that when a pandemic occurs, we know what to expect and what to do.