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Are you prepared?

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By Carol A. Clark

Winter’s looming, HIN1’s here and emergency officials are urging residents to get prepared now.

“It’s extremely important for everyone to ensure their safety and that of their family by making plans and putting an emergency kit together now, rather than waiting until something happens,” said Acting Regional Administrator Gary Jones of FEMA’s Region VI in a news release.

September is actually National Preparedness Month and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps are leading this annual effort to raise awareness and promote action surrounding emergency preparedness among citizens, businesses and communities.

“We’re urging all New Mexicans to prepare for emergencies with an emergency kit consisting of a three day supply of food, water, medicines, pet supplies, flashlights, battery powered radio and batteries, a first aid kit and other items needed in an emergency,” said New Mexico Cabinet Secretary John Wheeler in the release.

Los Alamos County Emergency Management Coordinator Philmont Taylor addressed Los Alamos County’s preparedness plan during an interview this morning.

“I agree with everything Gary Jones and John Wheeler said and that’s been my mantra since I moved here,” Taylor said. “I’m a big proponent of more is better so if you’ve got more than a three-day supply, so much the better. Your food supply doesn’t have to be gourmet foods, you can have inexpensive foods like dried fruit, canned goods, nuts and pinto beans – you don’t have to spend a lot of dough.”

Taylor joined a dozen representatives from Los Alamos attending an H1N1 summit in Santa Fe Monday.

“We had occupational medicine folks and flu modelers from LANL, fire department officials, representatives from Los Alamos Medical Center and the county’s human resource department,” Taylor said. “We had the appropriate mix of folks there and the summit really confirmed that in Los Alamos we are on the right track in terms of planning and preparation.”

He urges residents to take two actions in their effort to avoid the flu – wash hands multiple times each day and stay away from sick people.

“That’s the simple best thing you can do to avoid the flu,” he said.

Taylor also said the county will be rolling out some type of mass vaccination event sometime in the October-November time frame.

It will be set up by priority groups with those deemed to be most susceptible receiving vaccines first.

“It’s thought that senior citizens may have developed latent immunity over their lifetime, more than any other group to the H1N1 strain,” Taylor said.

“However, they are still highly susceptible to seasonal flu and should be sure to also obtain a seasonal flu shot as should all groups.”

DOH defines the estimated number of persons in Los Alamos County in the vaccine target group as follows:

• Children and youth six to 24 – 7,628;

• Adults 25-64 at risk – 1,857;

• Healthcare workers 734;

• Pregnant women – 176;

• Parents and households with children older than 6 months – 499; and

• Total vaccine target group – 10, 894.

Taylor put the flu situation in perspective saying while it is a concern, it certainly isn’t reason for panic.

“It’s really demonstrated to be a manageable event in that people who’ve had it have been sick for three to five days and then they’re fine,” he said. “It’s really just a matter that calls for calm vigilance.”

For information on the Ready Campaign and preparedness month, access www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4186 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.