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What to pack in an emergency kit health experts recommend creating a swine flu emergency kit
Illustration of what to pack in an emergency kit
Illustration by Isabelle Cardinal

A second wave of swine flu could hit this fall, and health experts recommend creating an emergency kit if the outbreak is severe. Of course, it's a good idea to keep a kit for any emergency.

What you need for all emergencies

Food

At least three days' worth of nonperishable, ready-to-eat foods, such as canned goods, dry cereal, and peanut butter.

Water

At least one gallon per person per day for three days. Bottled water is best because it can be stored indefinitely at room temperature, if it remains properly sealed and is kept dry and away from direct sunlight.

First-aid kit

You can buy a kit or build your own. Include a first-aid manual, antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment, bandages, burn ointment, calamine lotion, cold packs, eye-wash solution, gauze, gloves, hydrocortisone cream, scissors, tape, a thermometer, and tweezers. Also include any prescription and over-the-counter medications your family might need:

  • Antihistamines for allergic reactions, including diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) or loratadine (Claritin and generic).
  • Pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and generic) or naproxen (Aleve and generic). Children should not take aspirin, except with a doctor's recommendation.
  • Stomach and antidiarrhea remedies, including loperamide (Imodium and generic).
  • Antacids, including Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums, and generic.

Remember that drugs do expire; old drugs should not be used.

What you need for a flu outbreak

A two-week supply of food and water in case you're confined to your home. Also stock:

  • Fever reducers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
  • Cough and cold medications containing chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine, oxymetazoline, and pseudoephedrine and lozenges with dyclonine, glycerin, or honey.
  • Electrolyte drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, to keep you hydrated.
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, such as Purell, to kill viruses when soap and water aren't available.
  • Surgical masks with a rating from the FDA of at least N-95 to help prevent spreading the flu. Masks need to be replaced often and disposed of after use.

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