Pandemic Planning

General Information

The severity of pandemics is unpredictable and may vary from community to community. The CDC and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services are continuing to monitor the spread of the flu and the severity of illness it is causing. Planning now can reduce educational and social disruptions at Stony Brook University.

As you plan, it is important to think about the challenges that you might face, particularly if a pandemic is severe. It may take time to find the answers to these challenges. Below are some situations that could be caused by a severe pandemic and possible ways to address them. A checklist and fill-in sheets for family health information and emergency contact information have been prepared to help guide your planning and preparation.

Social Disruption May Be Widespread

  • Plan for the possibility that usual services may be disrupted. These could include services provided by hospitals and other health care facilities, banks, stores, restaurants, government offices, and post offices.
  • Prepare backup plans in case public gatherings, such as volunteer meetings and worship services, are canceled.
  • Consider how to care for people with special needs in case the services they rely on are not available.

Being Able to Work May Be Difficult or Impossible

  • Find out if you can work from home.
  • Ask your employer about how business will continue during a pandemic. (A Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist is available at www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/business/businesschecklist.html)
  • Consider how to care for people with special needs in case the services they rely on are not available.
  • Plan for the possible reduction or loss of income if you are unable to work or your place of employment is closed.
  • Check with your employer or union about leave policies.

Schools May Be Closed for an Extended Period of Time

  • Help schools plan for pandemic influenza. Talk to the school nurse or the health center. Talk to your teachers, administrators, and parent-teacher organizations.
  • Plan home learning activities and exercises. Have materials, such as books, on hand. Also plan recreational activities that your children can do at home.
  • Consider childcare needs.

Transportation Services May Be Disrupted

  • Think about how you can rely less on public transportation during a pandemic. For example, store food and other essential supplies so you can make fewer trips to the store.
  • Prepare backup plans for taking care of loved ones who are far away.
  • Consider other ways to get to work, or, if you can, work at home.

People Will Need Advice and Help at Work and Home

  • Think about what information the people in your workplace will need if you are a manager. This may include information about insurance, leave policies, working from home, possible loss of income, and when not to come to work if sick. (A Business Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist is available at www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/business/businesschecklist.html)
  • Meet with your colleagues and make lists of things that you will need to know and what actions can be taken.
  • Find volunteers who want to help people in need, such as elderly neighbors, single parents of small children, or people without the resources to get the medical help they will need.
  • Identify other information resources in your community, such as mental health hotlines, public health hotlines, or electronic bulletin boards.
  • Find support systems-people who are thinking about the same issues you are thinking about. Share ideas.

Be Prepared
Stock a supply of water and food. During a pandemic you may not be able to get to a store. Even if you can get to a store, it may be out of supplies. Public waterworks services may also be interrupted. Stocking supplies can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters. Store foods that:

  • are nonperishable (will keep for a long time) and don't require refrigeration
  • are easy to prepare in case you are unable to cook
  • require little or no water, so you can conserve water for drinking

Have a supply of all prescription and non-prescription medicines you need.

See a checklist of items to have on hand for an extended stay at home.

Stay Healthy
Will the seasonal flu shot protect me against pandemic influenza?

  • No, it won't protect you against pandemic influenza. But flu shots can help you to stay healthy.
  • Get a flu shot to help protect yourself from seasonal flu.
  • Get a pneumonia shot to prevent secondary infection if you are over the age of 65 or have a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma. For specific guidelines, talk to your health care provider or call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hotline at 1-800-232-4636.
  • Make sure that your family's immunizations are up-to-date.
  • Take common-sense steps to limit the spread of germs. Make good hygiene a habit.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in a waste basket.
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve if you don't have a tissue.
  • Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Stay at home if you are sick.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Be sure to eat a variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. Also include low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans. Drink lots of water and go easy on salt, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fat.
  • Exercise on a regular basis and get plenty of rest.

Protect Yourself
An informed and prepared public is essential to minimizing the health effects of a pandemic and the resulting consequences to society. Learn important health and safety information concerning pandemic influenza, with material targeted for specific groups such as families, travelers, workers, communities, and health professionals.

Follow the work and family preparedness guidelines found on this web site and the other sites listed. Taking these preparedness steps will help during any emergency, including a pandemic flu emergency.

Practice good respiratory hygiene practices including the following:

  • Cover your nose/mouth when coughing or sneezing;
  • Use tissues to contain respiratory secretions and dispose of them in the nearest receptacle after use;
  • Perform hand hygiene - Wash your hands often! Hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol -based hand rub, or antiseptic hand wash after having contact with respiratory secretions and potentially contaminated objects, materials or people.

Learn more: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/health/index.html

"Why Don't We Do it in Our Sleeves?" Are you still coughing and sneezing the way they did during the Plague? Then you need to watch this video! Infection Control specialists are wild about this hot new entry in the educational video field. It's fun, but it punches out a serious message that people will remember. http://www.coughsafe.com/media.html

Get Informed

  • Knowing the facts is the best preparation. Identify sources you can count on for reliable information. If a pandemic occurs, having accurate and reliable information will be critical.
  • Reliable, accurate, and timely information is available at www.pandemicflu.gov.
  • Another source for information on pandemic influenza is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hotline at: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). This line is available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY: 1-888-232-6348. Questions can be e-mailed to cdcinfo@cdc.gov.
  • Look for information on your local and state government Web sites. Links are available to each state department of public health at www.cdc.gov/other.htm#states.
  • Listen to local and national radio, watch news reports on television, and read your newspaper and other sources of printed and Web-based information.
  • Talk to your local health care providers and public health officials.
  • As you begin your individual or family planning, you may want to review your state's planning efforts and those of your local public health and emergency preparedness officials. Many of the state plans and other planning information can be found at www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/state/index.html.

Family Emergency Card
It is important to prepare for emergencies before they occur and to identify emergency contact information. Fill out both sides of this card and keep with you at all times. Make copies for everyone in your family. This card includes:

  • Family Member's Name
  • Blood Type
  • Allergies
  • Current Health Conditions
  • Current Medications/Dosages
  • Other Contacts:
    • Local Emergency
    • Out of Town Emergency
    • Hospital
    • Family MD(s) & Vet
    • Pharmacy
    • Work Emergency Information
    • School Emergency Information
    • Religious/Spiritual Group

Card Link:
http://www.asa.stonybrook.edu/asa/asaforms/EHSD0270/$FILE/EHSD0270.pdf (in Adobe PDF format)

If and when the pandemic flu or any other public health emergency or disaster strikes, your family will be better prepared if you develop a family emergency plan. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an excellent step-by-step guide on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters: Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness (updated August 2004; available in English and Spanish).

This book and additional information on family preparedness can be found at:
http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/index.shtm