Thursday, July 19, 2018

Things are heating up, but you don’t have to

Throughout the long winter months, we often dream of the warmth that summer brings. But what do we do when the heat is just too much?

Extreme heat can be really bad for our health. Fortunately for us, there are things we can do to make sure that we stay healthy while making the most out of the summer months.
First, stay alert. If the weather forecast is calling for super-hot days, there may be heat alerts from national and local authorities telling you to protect yourself.

In extreme heat, stay indoors. Find places with air conditioning — such as libraries, recreational centers or a friend’s house — that will keep you cool. If you have to be outside, avoid a lot of physical activity and find shade. Never, ever leave a person or pet alone in a car on a hot day.
Protect your body with what you put in and on it. Avoid sugary drinks in extreme heat. Drink water to stay cool and hydrated and eat frequent, small meals. Leave the dark clothing in your closet. Light, loose clothes reflect heat away from you and allow for cool air flow.

So why all the fuss? The fact is, extreme heat can make you really sick — and even be deadly. Look for signs like muscle spasms, dizziness, exhaustion, sweating, nausea, vomiting and fainting. They could mean that you are getting sick from the heat.

If so, cool down with a cold bath and a cool drink. If it’s an emergency, call 911.
For more tips on how to stay cool this summer, check out our fact sheet and share our heat wave graphics.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New Get Ready mosquitoes infographic helps fight the bite

It’s summertime! Unfortunately, along with barbecues, vacation and beach days, summer also means peak mosquito season.

Our new Get Ready infographic can help you stay safe this summer!
Mosquitoes aren’t just itchy and annoying. They can carry diseases like West Nile virus, dengue, malaria and Zika. West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the U.S., with more than 2,000 people getting sick from it last year.

The good news is that our new Get Ready infographic has great tips to ward off mosquitoes, including what to wear, how to protect your home and ways to mosquito-proof your yard.

Our infographic is great for posting on social media and your website. You can print copies and share them at a summer health fair, on the office bulletin board or on your home fridge. There’s even space to add your organization or health department’s logo.

While you’re on the Get Ready site, check out our other great infographics, including tips on heat, storms and floods.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Calling all animal lovers! Announcing APHA's 2018 Get Ready Photo Contest

dogSometimes our furry friends love us so much they think they are one of us. If you have an animal that loves acting like a human, they could be featured in our next Get Ready calendar.

Whether your puppy sometimes likes to help out with the dishes, or your rabbit loves to dress up bunny-professional, we want to see it!

Just snap a picture of a critter doing something adorably human. It could be a pet, zoo or farm animal or creature in the wild. Then submit your photo to APHA's 2018 Get Ready Photo Contest.

If your picture gets selected, our Get Ready team will tack on a cute caption or fact about the importance of emergency preparedness and include it in our 2019 calendar.

To look back at previous photo contests, check out our 2014 calendar or 2013 calendar.

Take a look at our FAQs and rules for full details.

Submissions are open now through July 27, so get snapping!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The wide world of grilling: Cooking safe this Fourth of July weekend and all summer long

Today’s guest post is by Adam Ghering, public affairs specialist with the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. With Fourth of July just around the corner, grill season is officially here. Learn how to cook safely for your family or a crowd with these tips from USDA.

Long days and beautiful weather make the summer months perfect for grilling outdoors. There are many different types of grills and cooking methods to cook your meat and poultry.

Regardless of what grill you use, food safety is essential to make sure you do not get yourself or family and friends sick. Here’s a quick overview of each general type of heating source for the home grill and specific food safety tips when grilling.

• Charcoal: Using charcoal imparts a smoky flavor on the foods you’re cooking. Watch out though, as charcoal grills can get up to 700 degrees! Hot grills can quickly brown the outside of meats, giving the meat the appearance of being “done.” However, the internal portions of the meat may not be cooked to a safe temperature. Always use a food thermometer to verify a safe internal temperature has been reached.

• Gas and propane: While gas and propane grills will generally provide less of a smoky flavor compared to charcoal, they can be heated to cooking temperatures very quickly, and the heat can be controlled more precisely. If you are cleaning the grill surface with a wire cleaning brush, carefully inspect the grill for bristles that might have come off of the brush or consider using other grill cleaning methods or products. 

Check out these tips to learn more about safe grilling!
(Photo courtesy of the USDA)
• Electric: All you need is an electric outlet to start an electric grill, and it can be heated up in a uniform manner. You can partially cook food in an oven, stove or microwave before grilling to reduce grilling time, but the food must be placed on the preheated grill immediately after partially cooking.

• Campfire: With so many options for cooking techniques — grilling baskets, skewers, metal grate, Dutch oven — and the addition of that wonderful smoky flavor, campfire grilling can be an appealing option. But watch out! Fatty foods can produce grease, which if exposed to flames can cause flare ups. Cold spots in the fire can lead to cold spots in the food.

Whichever types of grilling you do, always use a food thermometer to ensure your meat and poultry is safe to eat. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees. Beef, pork, lamb and veal — steaks, roasts and chops — should be cooked to 145 degrees with a three-minute rest time. Ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees, while whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry should reach 165 degrees.

Keep in mind that when grilling, some foods cook faster than others. You may need to keep cooked food hot — above 140 degrees — while waiting for other pieces to reach a safe internal temperature. If that is the case, create different levels of heat by positioning charcoal on one side of the grill, or turning heating elements higher on a specific side. The high heat area will allow for cooking, while the lower heat side can be used to keep food warm until serving.

If you have a question about meat, poultry or egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline or email or chat via Ask Karen or Pregúntele a Karen.
Get more tips on safe cooking outdoors with this USDA fact sheet.

Have a safe, happy and tasty Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Why a preparedness bill in Congress right now will be good for your community

We all know it’s important to be personally prepared for emergencies — that’s why we have flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits and food and water tucked away, right?

But if a major disaster happens, it’s really crucial that health workers in our communities are prepared too. Just like fire departments and emergency medical personnel, workers in health departments and public health labs need to be staffed, trained and ready to help when it matters most. Which is why a bill that’s making its way through Congress right now is so important.

Once it’s approved, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018, also known as PAHPA, will continue funding that’s used to support preparedness at thousands of health departments and labs in communities all around the country, including yours.

This is really important, as funding is crucial when dealing with disease outbreaks such as flu or Ebola — or in the event of biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear incidents. Clearly, we don’t want any of these disasters to happen. But if they do, we want our health workers to be prepared. After all, they are the ones who protect us, our families and our communities.

A Senate committee recently approved the preparedness funding legislation. APHA thanked the committee members for their support. The Association also called for more funding so that we can make sure our health departments and labs can do all they need to. A House committee is now working to develop its version of the legislation.

APHA will continue to advocate for preparedness funding as the bill makes its way through Congress. Stay tuned for more updates!

The U.S. Capitol building, where PAHPA was
introduced in the Senate.
(By rrodrickbeiler, courtesy iStockphoto)