Monday, September 04, 2017

#NatlPrep: A Hurricane Prep You Might Not Have Considered

Note: This is day 4 of National Preparedness Month . Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NatlPrep hash tag.
This month, as part of NPM17, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones.


Although the models may very well change several more times over the next few days, those of us who live in Florida are watching Irma's path carefully. The storm is expected to move over much warmer waters later this week, and the NHC is predicting Irma to remain a major hurricane for the next 5 days.
While I am generally well prepared for emergencies, like many of my neighbors, I'm `fine tuning' my preps in case Irma comes my way. 
I've firmed up two `bug out' destinations - two hundred miles apart - should I be forced to leave my home. I'm slowly changing out my stash of drinking water (80 gals stored last summer) with fresh, and I've done some clean up around my house to reduce flying debris.

I've more than enough food for me and my cat for two weeks, a wind-up/solar/battery operated NWS weather radio, a first aid and medical supplies as befits an ex-paramedic, along with LED lanterns, batteries, tarps, and miscellaneous supplies.
And sometime over the next few days, I'll be getting my annual flu shot.
You might not have thought about it, but getting your seasonal flu shot should be part of your overall individual preparedness plan. During a disaster or prolonged emergency you are going to be tired, stressed, and your immune systems likely weakened. 
The last thing you need to be dealing with during a crisis is to be sick with the flu on top of it.
I normally wait until the last half of September to get my shot, and while I'm still hopeful Irma will give my neck of the woods a wide berth, it makes sense to get it done now. The CDC discusses the pros and cons of early vaccination in Should I wait to get vaccinated so that my immunity lasts through the end of the season?

Granted, the flu vaccine isn't perfect, and its effectiveness can vary greatly from one year to the next. Recently, flu seasons where H3N2 has dominated have proved particularly challenging (see The Enigmatic, Problematic H3N2 Influenza Virus), with vaccine effectiveness (VE) ratings of 40% or below.
Still, given the serious nature of this summer's flu outbreaks in Australia and Hong Kong, I'll gladly take a 40% risk reduction if I can get it. 
For those of us of a certain age, getting the flu shot may also provide additional protection against heart attacks as well (see 2015's  UNSW: Flu Vaccine Provides Significant Protection Against Heart Attack).  Other, more recent studies with similar findings include:
CID Journal: Flu Vaccine Reduces Severe Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients

Int. Med. J.: Triggering Of Acute M.I. By Respiratory Infection
While the vaccine can’t promise 100% protection, it – along with practicing good flu hygiene (washing hands, covering coughs, & staying home if sick) – remains your best strategy for avoiding the flu and staying healthy this winter.

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