Are You Prepped for Winter Ills?

Child at doctor's visit
Children's hospitals are filling up thanks to a high rate of viral infections, and winter has barely started.

We’ve talked about the lack of natural gas, the high price of home heating, food inflation, and other challenges facing both Europeans and Americans this winter, but there’s one thing we haven’t addressed: Viruses.

Already, several viruses are affecting children in the northeast to such an extent that children’s hospitals across are filled to capacity. One New York hospital chain has treated 300 percent more patients for RSV than they did a year ago. (RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus which often presents as a cold but can lead to bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants.)

It’s only November. Flu season is barely underway, and while COVID cases are rising, we don’t know if there will be a COVID season.

Prep for Winter Ills

This is the time to check your medicine cabinet and prepper stockpile for over-the-counter medications for cold and flu. Do you have enough Kleenex? What about cough suppressants? Parents probably know that Children’s Tylenol has been hard to find, and it is almost priceless if you child runs a high fever.

We stockpile things like Alka-Seltzer Cold and Flu capsules and Theraflu but we have plenty of fever reducers, decongestants, expectorants and other potential treatments.

Now go a step further. Do you have enough of these preps to last a couple years? Do you have any antibiotics in your stash? What about inhalers? Can you treat an ear infection or a case of pneumonia?

COVID Hospitalizations Rising

COVID hospitalizations, which is the preferred measurement now that many people are testing at home rather than through their public health office, are rising in the Northeast, Midwest, and mountain states. While the overall rate continues to drop, this may be an early sign of the virus re-emerging as we head into winter and more people stay indoors.

My wife has friends on Long Island who were just diagnosed as positive, although they don’t require hospitalization. It’s important reminder that COVID is still out there. 

Worst of All Worlds

Wintertime illnesses are nothing new. Anyone with kids knows they build not long after school starts and then peak with the winter weather. The danger this year is that these common illnesses coincide with one or more of the following:

  • A lack of medical treatment and hospital beds caused by nursing shortages because of strict COVID vaccination policies.
  • A lack of medicine, both OTC and prescription, caused supply chain problems and shutdowns in China.
  • Rolling blackouts caused by gas shortages.
  • Households that cannot afford to heat their home due to high costs.
  • Households that are suffering from poor nutrition because of food inflation and the rising cost of living.

The combination of what we have traditionally known as the cold and flu season with one or more of the above could make it worse than normal.

There’s not much we can do for our European allies, but you can make a difference at home.

Make sure you are prepped. Check on your elderly neighbors. Help someone with small children out if you are able to do so. The flu isn’t the end of the world, but if it leads to pneumonia and death, it may well feel like the end of the world for the affected family.