In November 2007, the
US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
launched its "Take the Lead" campaign, asking local
to help their communities prepare for pandemic flu.
disease takes time to spread through a family or
household. Many families see this happen with the
common cold: the virus may take up to 6 weeks to go through
the entire family, passing from person to person.
In a severe
pandemic, according to the CDC, all family members in the household
will be asked to
stay at home and avoid going to work or the store if a family member is
sick, for at least 7 days after the last person started showing
symptoms. If a family is large, everyone may be staying home
quite some time until it is clear that no one could still be
contagious. A long absence from work may result in a loss of
Even in a mild or
moderate pandemic, with very ill children, parents
may not wish or may not be able to leave their children, or may be sick
themselves and unable to get to the store. Outside help may
be available if an entire community is sick at one time.
convenience and peace of mind, it would be a good idea to
stock up on the things you would want to get you through a longer time
frame than just 2 weeks.
hits a community in "waves." In a
community, at first a few people will be sick, and then many.
peak of infection is the time that a community is hit hardest, where
there will be the most sick people and fewest
There can be several waves during a pandemic.
Planners at the CDC
are planning for at least 12 weeks per wave in a
community for a severe pandemic. See Appendix 6, page 86,
Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance
planners basing planning on this 12 week period include:
Because a wave may
last as long as 12 weeks, schools may be closed, and
social distancing may be in effect for at least this length of
time. By stocking the supplies that you will need during a
pandemic, you can reduce your need to go out in public.
The more supplies you
have at home, the more effectively you can protect yourself and your
family during a pandemic.
supported by critical complex
systems: health care, electricity, water,
sewer, etc. These are the complex
systems we take for granted; however they can break down
quickly if people are not there to run
them. When workers (or their families)
get pandemic flu, the critical
infrastructure may degrade or fail. See
"About Pandemics" on the homepage
for information on how these critical systems affect you personally.
A degraded or failed
infrastructure has grave implications, affecting
both our personal welfare and the economy. They are
both need to be healthy for us to get through a flu pandemic.
Our supply chain is
complex and fragile. Your breakfast bowl of
cornflakes illustrates this. Where did it come
The corn was grown (a
complex process in itself requiring farm workers
and supplies) and then shipped to the factory. Next it was
shelled and then put in a steam pressure cooker. From there,
was processed into flakes and packaged, dried (to reduce moisture), and
then put through rollers to flatten into a flake. These were
toasted briefly in a hot gas oven, sprayed with supplements, and then
packaged. All of this requires working machinery and labor,
well as numerous supplies that have to be created elsewhere and
delivered to the factory. Your box of cornflakes journeys
the factory warehouse to distributors and finally to your local grocery
store. Store workers unload the truck and stock your
on the shelves, where you can buy them as long as the store is open,
the cashier is at work, and the power is on so that the computer
inventory systems, the cash registers, and the scanners
If you pay with plastic, the system must be able to query your bank
electronically to approve your purchase.
Your cornflakes were
produced by a complex process depending on
petroleum, electricity, natural gas, several types of transportation
(needing healthy drivers and healthy refinery workers), materials
(corn, plastic, cardboard, etc.), and people (such as farmers,
laborers, drivers, refinery workers, plant workers, truckers,
machinists, stockers and checkers) to keep things going. This
complex process requires a near-perfect infrastructure to keep
the "just-in-time" business model adopted
universally over the last
decades. Supplies are not kept on-site, but rather ordered
"just-in-time" from regional
warehouses. Consequently, your grocery store has
three days of cornflakes on the shelves. The former
warehouse is now on wheels.
during a pandemic, border closings (or restrictions on international or
interstate travel and shipping, to slow the spread of flu), will
greatly slow or stop lines of supply.
line: The critical infrastructure is at risk during a pandemic.