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Red Cross Urges Families and Communities to Prepare During Swine Flu Outbreak

Washing Hands, Recognizing Symptoms Key to Prevent Spread

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washing hands and paying close attention to symptoms of illness are just some of the things the public can to do help reduce the risk from the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak, the American Red Cross said today.


"This is a serious situation that has the potential to spread, and it is a good time for families, businesses and organizations to follow good public health practices and to review and update their preparedness plans," said Scott Conner, Senior Vice President of Preparedness and Health & Safety Services at the American Red Cross. "Taking steps to prepare for potential emergencies in advance can go a long way in making families feel safer."

The American Red Cross urges the public to remember these simple actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective when soap and water aren't available.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are feeling sick.

Children have been greatly impacted by this outbreak, and need to know how to properly wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs. The Red Cross has partnered with NSF International's (NSF) Scrub Club(R) to educate children about the importance of hand washing to protect them against influenza. The Scrub Club Web site ( is an easy, online tool to teach kids how to wash their hands and why it's important.

If families are asked to stay home during this outbreak, it's important to have a plan and supplies in place before that happens. The Red Cross recommends:

  • Stock extra food, water and supplies at home to reduce the need to go out should swine flu become more widespread, limiting potential for exposure to the virus.
  • Be sure to include household necessities such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc. Select foods that are easy to prepare and store.
  • Make sure you have an adequate supply of essential medications and medical items for all family members. Include non-prescription medications as well.

Other preparedness steps that can be taken include:

  • Plan for what you would do if you had to stay at home for a period of time.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick.
  • Find out your employer's plans to keep the business open if key staff can't come to work.
  • Ask your child's school or day care if there are plans to encourage sick children to stay home to reduce the spread of the disease.
  • Identify how you can get information, whether through local radio, TV, internet or other sources.

For more tips on how to prepare yourself, your family and community for this and other potential emergencies, visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization -- not a government agency -- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

SOURCE American Red Cross
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