When May's Harvard Business Review's special report on Preparing for a Pandemic asks "What should we do or not do?" it spurred thinking about this issue in terms of families and to consider the threat factually rather than fearfully.
Three times in the past century a new influenza hit with the flu of 1918/19 being the worst with about 40 million deaths (estimated American deaths were ten times as many as those killed in action in WWI). Other years were 1957 and 1968 -- not recent enough to be fresh in our memories for prevention and planning, but the '68/'69 flu was least severe and caused 34,000 US deaths. The HBR article notes that unlike SARS, a new flu strain may be harder to contain by quarantine if patients are infected before showing signs of illness (similar to chickenpox contagion/transmission). It is not possible to make vaccines in advance so what should mothers and families do for prevention, avoidance, and preparation? Knowing steps for hygiene and evacuation/sick leave to minimize contagion are important steps.
According to Bloomberg, scientists are counting on a slowdown as peak transmissions are in the winter months but now might be the time to know where resources are and to formulate your own family ideas for planning. The World Health Organiztion (WHO) has general bird flu information here but HBR's special report listed The Flu Wiki as a good source and it has two sites that you might start with: What do I need to know? and Personal and Family Preparedness as up to 30% of your neighbors and co-workers may become ill.
MotherPie recommends that you bookmark the Flu Wiki link on Personal Preparedness to have it handy and to flip through all the links on this last site so that you have a general idea of what to do (it lists topics such as food safety and storage, needs for six months of quarantine, coping, medical therapy and alternative medicine therapies). State and local information through the CDC is provided at this site (another site to note/bookmark). More information is here at the PandemicFlu.gov site. A Pandemic Influenza Planning Guide for Individuals and Families is here (pdf). Another site for information and ordering products like masks, here although their masks are $250? Wouldn't cheaper masks work? Other information here, and a page you might print in case you only have 24 hours to prepare here or here for a complete list of supplies for six months preparedness.
Fear is emotional; knowledge is practical. Know what you need to know, plan for what you can and don't live in fear but in security that you have done what you can...just in case.