Usually I love where I live, but this is one of those times that I don't. Right now I'm thinking Montana would be nice.
The Illinois State Public Health Director has announced that there are currently nine suspected cases of swine flu in my state. Five are in Chicago and four are in outlying counties, two of them very near the county in which I live. Boy, this thing isn't wasting any time.
I know that it remains to be seen how serious this will get. But in my opinion now is the time to start taking precautions. I have reviewed with my children things they can do to protect themselves from germs when they are out in public. For example: avoid touching your face. If you have to use a public restroom, don't turn off the faucet after you wash your hands, but instead get a towel and dry them first and then use that same towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door to exit.
I have purchased some hand sanitizer for each of our cars and will start having people use it after we have been in a public place. Today I ordered a package of these, which I know aren't foolproof but are better than nothing. And I have for some time now been trying to stock up on non-perishables so that if we need to hole up at home for a while we'll be able to. I also plan to keep the car filled up with gas and to make sure we are well stocked on our prescription medications.
For several years I had a piano student who was immune suppressed. Whenever anyone in our house was even slightly ill, I would inform her mother and she would skip that week's lesson. Sometimes during cold and flu season she would take her piano lesson wearing a mask. When she left my house and got in her car the first thing she would do is put sanitizer on her hands. She and her parents weren't being paranoid but simply taking reasonable steps to protect Katie in an environment that was potentially full of dangers to her health.
I think right now we should all take a lesson from Katie. Better safe than sorry.