Monday, June 19, 2006

Prepare for Pandemic-- or party?

In 1999, the buzzword was, “Prepare for Y2K! Buy a generator! Stock up on non-perishables and water!”
After 9/11/01, the government told us to buy duct tape and plastic to enclose our homes in the event of a nuclear disaster, biological warfare, or dirty bomb.
Now it’s bird flu. This thing hasn’t even mutated to a form that can pass between humans, and only one flu-positive bird has been found in our hemisphere. But the Powers That Be are making public their predictions for a world-wide pandemic (yes, I know, that phrase comes from the department of redundancy department) and its impact on all of us.
So…break out the generators, folks! Test them to make sure they work! Are your computers up to date and virus-free? Are all of your important files backed up? No need for duct tape and plastic this time, but stock up at least 2 weeks worth of non-perishable food and drinking water in case of quarantine.
Y2K didn’t bother me – much. It helps to be married to a techie; he made sure our home computers were suitably prepared and backed up. We did set aside enough potable water (that’s drinkable, for you non-scientists) to last a few days in case the municipal people running the utilities were not as ready as we were. None was needed, so I used it for cooking.
For the next crisis, we had to consider several points. In the Midwest, we’re at least one to two hundred miles from major cities that might be a target of any terrorist attack. We are, however, less than 100 miles from the nearest nuclear power plant. A melt-down or attack would spew radioactive material into the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. Chaos! Confusion! Consternation! Buy the duct tape and prepare window coverings!
The truth is, our home is so old and leaky (and lovely and historic) that plastic and duct tape would have to enclose the entire thing in a bubble worthy of the one in the movie ET. By the time we could have our home suitably “protected”, we’d already be showered by whatever fallout was blowin’ in the wind. We calmed down and spent our money elsewhere.
What next? Put in a supply of water and food in case of a bird flu pandemic? I'll think about it. but until then, I'm not going to panic. After all, wine and cheese did more for my family's self-preservation than duct tape and plastic.


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