Federal workers abroad urged to store food, water

Editor's note: Shortly after publication of this story, the US Consulate in Hong Kong first changed and later removed its Web page advising employees to stockpile a 12-week supply of food and water.

Nov 7, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The US State Department is advising government employees overseas to stockpile enough food and water to last up to 12 weeks in preparation for the threat of a severe influenza pandemic.

A Nov 3 statement posted on the Web site of the US Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau said the State Department recently sent guidance on "shelter-in-place" or "self-quarantine" to all diplomatic and consular posts.

The statement said that overseas employees, like their stateside counterparts and private citizens, should maintain supplies of food and water for a possible pandemic. The advisory urges families to store nonperishable foods that don't require refrigeration, preparation, or cooking. Also, families are advised to store 1 gallon of water per person per day.

The Hong Kong consulate also advises US citizens in Hong Kong and other countries to prepare for water supply disruptions if infrastructure breakdowns occur during an influenza pandemic.

Suggested water purification techniques include boiling for at least 10 minutes and adding specified amounts of regular Clorox bleach.

The recommendation that US citizens overseas stockpile 12 weeks' worth of food and water differs from the current federal recommendation for general pandemic preparedness. The government, on its pandemic planning Web site, recommends that US residents stockpile 2 weeks' worth of food and water.

See also:

PandemicFlu.gov article "A guide for individuals and families"
http://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/familyguide.html

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