Friday, November 21, 2014

Don’t get overwhelmed by the holiday hustle and bustle

The holidays: a time for food, family, gift giving…and lots and lots of people! Crowd safety isn’t just for summertime festivals, concerts and Fourth of July events. With increased travel, holiday parades and packed stores, being safe in crowds is just as important during the holiday season. Do you know what to do to keep yourself and others safe?
  • Plan ahead: Whether it’s a black Friday sale or Thanksgiving Day parade, know what to expect before you head out. How many people might be there? Will you be indoors or outdoors? These key details will help you plan ahead.
  • Check the weather: Winter weather ( can bring chilly temperatures, snow, rain and sleet. Wear clothing that will prepare you most for the weather. Maybe you’re standing in line until a store opens, or you’re attending a holiday parade that will be outdoors for hours. Be sure to consider how long you might be outside and bring supplies to stay prepared.
  • Keep clean hands a priority: More people mean more chances to keep your hands from being clean. Stores and airports can host many germs that might lead to colds, flu or other infectious diseases. Wash your hands often and keep your hand sanitizer handy for when you can’t get to a sink. And for added disease protection, always get your seasonal flu shot!
  • Know your exits and surroundings: Whether the event is indoors or outdoors, be sure to locate your nearest exits, the closest first-aid kit and where to go for help. You won’t want to wait for an emergency to take place before knowing how to get what you need.
  • Have a plan: If you’re attending an event with others, have a plan for where to meet should you become separated or if an emergency occurs. Keep in mind that cellphones may not always work among large crowds, so decide on a meeting place ahead of time.
For more information about crowd safety, read our Get Ready big event fact sheet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

As hurricane season comes to an end, now’s a good time to think ahead to next year

Credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory
Nov. 30 marks the official end of the hurricane season, which luckily was relatively quiet this year. While the 2014 season was slow, there’s no guarantee it will be the same way next year, especially as research shows that climate change is making bad weather worse. With that in mind, now’s a good time to restock hurricane supplies and review your plans.

And remember, being prepared for hurricanes will also help you be ready for other emergencies or disasters, such as winter weather — which is right around the corner.

There are a few main things to remember when preparing for hurricanes. The first is to know the dangers, which can include heavy rainfall, flooding and high winds.

The second part of preparing for a hurricane is having supplies. Everyone should have supplies stored to last at least three days, including non-perishable food, water, medicine and prescriptions, a battery-operated radio, batteries, flashlights and a first-aid kit. The Get Ready campaign offers a great list of supplies that should be in your stockpile.

Have your emergency supplies packed and ready to go in a portable container, and never ignore evacuation orders. Have an evacuation plan ready. Go over the evacuation plan with your family. Remember that you should prepare for the specific needs of yourself, your family and your pets. Take time now to learn the official evacuation routes for your community and where shelters are located.

Injuries can occur during evacuation because of water and debris. Clean up and repairs can also cause injuries. In fact, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many hurricane-related injuries occur well after the storm is over. Common injuries include cuts to the arms, legs and hands and back sprains. Make sure to pack extra bandages, including gauze and bandage tape, in your first-aid kit for these types of injuries.

Visit CDC’s website for more hurricane preparedness tips and download Get Ready’s hurricane fact sheet in English or Spanish.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Volcano preparedness: What to know when lava starts to flow

Lava Flows Burning Vegetation / Tim Orr, U.S. Geological Survey
Residents of Hawaii’s Big Island are on alert this week as a hot stream of lava oozes its way from the Kilauea volcano. The lava is set to destroy houses and buildings in its path, and many residents have evacuated.

While lava is a threat to lives and property, there are other unhealthy and unsafe things about volcanoes. Smoke, gases, and ash are unhealthy for very young and older people because they can be irritating to breathe. If someone has asthma or lung problems, they can make things worse.

Other health hazards include burns and drinking water contamination. A volcanic eruption can lead to additional disasters, too, such as mudslides, floods, tsunamis and wildfires.

How can you protect yourself and family from a volcano?
  • Become familiar with your community’s warning systems, evacuation routes and shelter locations well ahead of time.
  • Create an emergency supply kit and have it ready to go in case of evacuation.
  • Remain alert, listen and watch for information from authorities. Follow evacuation orders immediately and completely. 
  • If you or someone in your family has lung disease, consider evacuating early, because the air may not be healthy to breath.
  • If caught indoors during an eruption or if officials have ordered residents to shelter in place,  immediately close all windows, doors and ventilation sources; turn off air conditioning and heating systems; and move to an interior, windowless room that is above ground level.
  • To protect yourself from falling volcanic ash, stay indoors and place damp towels in the spaces between the doors and the ground. If you go outside, wear long sleeves and pants, put on a disposable facemask and wear goggles.
  • After an eruption, avoid driving in heavy ash fall.
Read our Get Ready volcano fact sheet for more tips on preparing for and staying safe during a volcanic eruption.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

You’ve changed your clocks, now check your stocks

Daylight saving time ended last weekend, bringing us one step closer to winter. But before you break out your scarves, mittens and holiday decorations, there’s one more move to make: checking your emergency preparedness supplies.

It’s easy to forget about your emergency stockpile, particularly if you have it tucked away in a closet or basement. But if a disaster occurs, you want it to have everything you need — and that means checking up on it every so often.

APHA’s Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign recommends using the twice-annual time change as a reminder to check your stockpile.

You should make sure nothing’s been removed from your emergency stockpile, that batteries or water haven’t leaked and that food hasn’t expired. Use our supplies list to double-check that you have everything you need in your stockpile, and add items as needed.

If your life has changed since you assembled the stockpile, such as a new family member or a change in medical condition, you should add supplies to account for that.

If you haven’t created a stockpile yet, now is the time to put one together. All Americans should have at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in their homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day. Choose foods that don’t require refrigeration and aren’t high in salt. Your stockpile should also contain flashlights, a manual can opener, a radio and batteries, among other items.

And if you haven’t tested your smoke alarm and changed its batteries, you should do that as well.

Visit our Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks page for tools and tips for creating the perfect stockpile.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New Halloween e-cards from Get Ready: Nothing’s scarier than being unprepared

Halloween is here, and for APHA’s Get Ready team that means two things: flu season and time to check your emergency supplies.

  • Get your flu shot! While there’s been a lot of talk about Ebola lately, we can’t forget about preparing for the flu. It kills thousands of Americans every year and poses a major risk for adults over 65, pregnant women and people with serious health conditions. Getting vaccinated, however, can help prevent the flu, so get your flu shot today!
  • Set your clocks, check your stocks: Daylight saving time ends on Sunday, Nov. 2. When you change your clocks, take some time to also check your emergency stockpile. Make sure food supplies haven’t expired and your emergency kit is complete. Do this twice a year when the time changes to help you and your family be prepared when it matters.

We’ve created two new Halloween e-cards to share the importance of preparedness with friends and family. Spread some Halloween cheer and let them know what’s really spooky this time of year – not being prepared!