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Fortress Home: Why I Don't Fret Over Pig Flu

I tend to over-react when it comes to prepping my home for disaster. I snapped up duct tape and plastic (even though I felt foolish doing so) a few years back when the feds said we needed to prepare a "safe room" in our homes in case a terrorist set off a bio or radiation bomb. I bought those stupid anti-radiation pills after 9/11. I knew I was being a complete sucker, but who can risk her family's security for 20 bucks? For a while I stockpiled plastic jugs of water, at least until one developed a slow leak and gave rise to mold in my pantry. That's when I realized my worry might be focused on the wrong things.

Given my history of being unofficial household safety officer, which is roundly ridiculed by the rest of my family, I find it interesting that I'm not particularly worried about the swine flu that is the danger du jour. If an outbreak happens locally, I'm confident my family can retreat to Fortress Home, if necessary. We'll be ready. I'm well-stocked on Lysol, and I can gradually build up the food in the pantry to minimize trips to the germy grocery store. We have a fast Internet connection so we can get lots of work done from home. And we have loads of fresh air and sunshine to help keep us healthy. We're carrying on as usual now, but should anyone under my roof come down with aches, fever and a cough, I promise you I will keep them at home and call the doctor, pronto. Faithful readers will do the same, I hope.

There are a couple of reasons I'm not particularly worried. First, what flu has occurred in the U.S. so far has been fairly mild. Second, officials say it can be treated with anti-viral drugs, which the government has already stockpiled. Those are important points.

Maybe my calm also reflects the fact that I'm old enough to remember the last swine flu alarm back in the 1970s, which amounted to not much. Maybe I've been desensitized by all of the post-9/11 security threats. More likely, I think, is that I know my home is reasonably prepared for the unexpected -- like the week we spent without electricity after a tropical storm blew through a few years ago. We got by without even needing to buy batteries (not that you could find any in the stores). Above all, I'm certain that worry won't improve a thing.

What's your best tip for preparing your home for the unexpected? And do you think I'm wrong about this flu situation?

By Elizabeth Razzi  |  April 29, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
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