If H1N1 flu is not in your neighborhood—just wait it won’t be long. Time is running out to prepare…and the most important first responders may be America’s business community.

Our Heritage Backgrounder, “Swine Flu: What Every American Should Know,” covers all the basics of what we’ll face this flu season and what to do. The good news is that while many more people may catch the flu this year, because H1N1 has proven more contagious than other seasonal flu, it is not a “killer disease.” On average, each year about 36,000 die from medical complications after catching the flu. Usually, that’s because they have some kind of medical condition that has already compromised their immune system. The vast majority of us that catch the flu will just have a few uncomfortable days.

With more folks getting sick, however, offices may emptier than usual. Key personnel will miss work. Fewer customers may show up at the counters. Business needs to think about how to deal with these conditions now, not later. By developing a plan, not only will they weather the flu season, but they will be better prepared for all kinds of conditions that could threaten the continuity of business and service to the community.

There are a number of guidelines out there that offer some pretty sound advice. The latest is from the US Chamber of Commerce. According to the Chamber it prepared, It’s Not Flu as Usual: An H1N1 Business Preparedness Guide to provide businesses with suggestions on how to keep employees healthy and maintain business operations during the upcoming flu season.

In addition to a 10-point preparedness checklist, the guide includes a list of Internet sites, such as www.flu.gov, that provide businesses with a wealth of detailed information on topics like federal guidance for workplace planning, vaccines, antiviral drugs, face masks, and respirators.

It’s Not Flu as Usual is available at www.uschamber.com/pandemic.

Any one that runs an office in America ought to read it and follow some pretty sensible advice.