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What Does the Swine Flu Pandemic Mean for Working Moms?

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Question: What Does the Swine Flu Pandemic Mean for Working Moms?
It's easy to panic when reading news about the swine flu pandemic. Working moms and dads are especially vulnerable to potential school closings due to the swine flu pandemic. Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to prepare for an outbreak in your community.
Answer:

Be informed. You should be aware of the swine flu pandemic and stay up-to-date on any outbreaks in your state or major metropolitan areas near you. Know the swine flu symptoms and be alert about your child's health.

Take reasonable precautions against swine flu. You can help prevent the swine flu, regular flu and other illness with some simple steps that you can also teach your children. For instance:

  • Get vaccinated against the flu and make sure your children are up-to-date on vaccines.
  • If you or your child feel sick, visit the doctor.
  • Wash your hands well and regularly.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze -- but not with your hand. That spreads germs when you touch items. Cough into a tissue or your elbow, and teach children to do the same.
  • Avoid sick people, stay home when you're sick and keep sick kids home from school.
  • Don't touch your nose, mouth or eyes, where germs can easily enter your body.

Don't panic. It's easy to get caught up imagining your child as one the healthy child in the news who catches swine flu and dies a day later. But it's important to control your panic about the swine flu pandemic. For one, you risk passing on your fear to your child. And even if your child does get sick, it doesn't mean a death sentence -- you can nurse your child through the flu with the help of medical professionals.

Plan for days off work. Because the symptoms of swine flu are similar to seasonal flu, it's more important than ever to keep children home from school or group child care if they have fever, cough, a sore throat or seem under the weather. Moreover, it's entirely possible your child's school may close for weeks at a time if the swine flu pandemic spreads to your community.

If you have paid days off, hoard them. If not, talk to your boss about the likelihood that you will need to stay home with a sick child, especially in the fall or winter. If it works for your job, set up the systems you need to telecommute in case of an emergency. Make back-up plans for babysitting by a relative or neighbor -- and make sure to discuss whether they're comfortable with the possibility of catching whatever illness your child has.

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