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Your emergency preparedness stockpile: What you need to know - page 12 / 28

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Cold & flu supplies: What you need when you are home sick

Having a stockpile of supplies in case of an emergency is always a good idea. After all, you never know when you may lose power or water or have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. But what about supplies that you would need if you were sick with a really bad cold or the flu and had to stay home for days at a time? If you’re sick enough that you can’t go to work or school, you shouldn’t be running out to the store for supplies and medication and sneezing all over your fellow shoppers.

Why do I need to have supplies for a cold or the flu?

If you’re sick with the flu (or a flu-like illness) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you should stay home and keep away from others as much as possible.

In fact, CDC officials say you should stay at home until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. That means it could be just you, your cat and talk show episodes for quite a few days. So if it’s flu season or if someone you know is sniffling and sneezing, take some time to check your sick-day supplies.

What should I have on hand in case I get a cold or the flu?

At the very least, you know you’re going to need tissues and some cold or flu medicine. Don’t forget to stock up on liquids, such as decaf tea or soup (but watch out for soups with high sodium, as that can make you more dehydrated).

You should also make sure you have some surface cleaners, disinfectants and paper towels at home, as studies have shown flu viruses spread easily through tissues and can survive on surfaces in your home for up to eight hours. Make sure to throw tissues directly in the trash, and wash your hands afterward. It’s important to keep surfaces (especially

bedside tables, bathroom surfaces, kitchen counters and kids’ toys) clean by wiping them down with a household cleaner according to directions on the product label.

You’ll also need laundry detergent and dish soap. Linens, eating utensils and dishes that are used by a sick person don’t need to be cleaned separately, but don’t share those items without washing them first. Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap. As the influenza virus is destroyed by heat, tumble-dry all your bed sheets and towels on high heat after machine washing.

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