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Press Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross , Public Information Officer, (510) 981-7008

Volunteers visit 25,000 Berkeley residences to deliver important info about preventing and responding to a possible flu pandemic.

Berkeley, California (Monday, May 28, 2007) - Hundreds of volunteers walked Berkeley streets to deliver emergency preparedness information to every household in Berkeley.

Approximately 25,000 homes and apartments received the door hangers, which provide information about preventing and responding to a flu pandemic.

“This was a tremendous effort on the part of Berkeley volunteers,” said City Manager Phil Kamlarz. “Just like with earthquakes, the most important thing to realize is that your family may have to be on your own for a little while.”

At the same time that residents receive information about how to be prepared, the City is treating Get Ready Berkeley Day as an exercise in itself. In the event of a flu pandemic, there is a possibility that information or medications may be distributed door-to-door with the help of city and community volunteers, just as in this community effort. This exercise will help City emergency staff plan for a similar emergency.

Although there is not a flu pandemic in the world at the moment, there have been three influenza pandemics in this century: 1918-19, 1957-58, and 1968-69. A flu pandemic is different from seasonal flu because it is such a new strain that no one has immunity to it and it spreads quickly around the world. However, the prevention methods are the same for seasonal or pandemic flu.

“Every year, about 36,000 people die in the United States each year from seasonal flu,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Deputy Health Officer for the City Of Berkeley. “A pandemic virus could make even healthy people very sick, so we all need to take steps to stay healthy and understand how to respond as a community if a pandemic flu ever happens.”

Student leaders also voiced concern over the possibility of a flu pandemic.

“Living in close communities as students do, you become especially aware of how quickly colds and flues run through a population,” said Nicole Mann, Panhellenic President at the University of California Berkeley. “This is a great opportunity to share information about protecting yourself from illness while allowing students to connect to the larger Berkeley community.”

Here are some of the steps you can take to prevent getting ill, and what you can do if you get sick.

·       Get a flu shot every year.

·       Don’t spread the flu—if you do get sick, “WHACK” it:

Wash your hands often

Home is where you should stay when you are sick

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Keep your distance from sick people.

·       Store water, food and medical supplies so if your family is asked to stay home, you’re prepared.

·       Get to know your neighbors and learn who might need extra help in an emergency.

·       Stay tuned! In an emergency, find out what steps local officials are recommending on television, the Internet and Berkeley Emergency Radio 1610.

After dropping off doorhangers in their assigned neighborhoods, volunteers returned to Frances Albrier Community Center for a barbeque lunch prepared by the Berkeley Fire Fighters Association. Many local companies and organizations contributed to the event, including: Kaiser Permanente, Elephant Pharmacy, Office Depot, Alta Bates, Bayer Corporation, and Clif Bar.

For more information about how to get ready for a flu pandemic or other emergency, or how to join your neighborhood preparedness efforts, please visit www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/getready for more information.


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