Monday, December 09, 2019

Pass along fun and merriment this season, not the flu

The holiday season is upon us, whether we’re ready for it or not. But one thing we can be ready for this season is the flu.

Before holiday shopping, socializing and endless eating take over our lives, take a break and go get your flu shot. Bring along family members or friends who haven’t received their vaccination as well. Make it an outing, with holiday sweaters and a stop for brunch to make it festive if you have to.
The important thing is to just go get your vax. Because flu season is here, and it’s looking like it will be a bad one.You need to be protected and so do the people you care about.

Last week was National Influenza Vaccination Week, which promotes flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. One reason officials are encouraging flu shots now is that all that holiday partying and travel can spread the flu. That means you can 1) get the flu and 2) pass it along to people you care about, which is a gift no one wants to receive.

The flu shot is safe and takes about two weeks to be effective after you get it, so now is the perfect time to get yours.

Still not convinced? There are so, so many benefits to getting a flu shot
Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu. Millions of illness and flu-related doctor visits are prevented each year by flu shots.
Flu vaccination can reduce visits to the hospital for flu. For seniors, getting a flu shot can lower their risk of flu-associated hospital visits by 40%.
In children, the flu vaccine can be particularly lifesaving. A study in 2017 showed that flu vaccination significantly decreases the risk of kids dying from the flu.
Flu vaccination can help prevent serious medical issues for people with chronic illnesses. In people with heart disease, flu vaccination decreases the rate of cardiac events.
Flu vaccination helps to protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting a flu shot protects babies after they’re born. It also reduces the risk of flu-related acute respiratory infections by about 40% in pregnant women.
Even if you do get the flu, getting the flu shot will mean that your symptoms will not as bad, and they won’t last as long.

For more info on vaccines and flu, check out our Get Ready fact sheets. For resources to share from CDC, including posters, FAQs and talking points, see their National Influenza Vaccination Week page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Make sure your Thanksgiving guests go home with happy memories, not stomach cramps

The holidays are here, which means you’re probably getting ready to share meals and merriment with families and friends.

This can be a fantastic and yummy time of the year. But if you don’t take care while preparing all that delicious holiday food, you can put people at risk for food poisoning.

Anyone can get sick from food poisoning, but some folks are at higher risk. Kids under age 5, seniors and women who are pregnant are all more likely to get sick from food and have a serious illness.

Luckily, preventing food poisoning can be easy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture  has these tips to help home chefs create safe Thanksgiving meals:

• Wash your hands often while cooking. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands on a clean paper towel, not a dirty apron or towel.
• Prevent cross-contamination. Clean surfaces as you go, including sinks and counters. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meat and other food. That way, you won’t end up with raw turkey juice in your salad. (Blech!)
• Cook the turkey to 165 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check it’s done, and never rely on those cheap pop-up ones that come with the turkey.
• Follow the two-hour rule. If all your food hasn’t been gobbled up two hours after you’ve set it out on the table, it’s time to wrap it up and stick it in the fridge. Any leftovers that are perishable should be eaten or frozen within three to four days.

For more seasonal food prep tips, check out

If you have questions while cooking your turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.
Have a happy, healthy holiday!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Are you ready for a quake? Debunking the myths and sharing the facts

We know earthquakes can be scary. They’re unpredictable and can happen anywhere. But there’s good news: Preparing for earthquakes can help keep you safe.

First, let’s debunk some common earthquake myths:

MYTH: Earthquakes don’t happen where I live.
FACT: Major earthquakes happen in all regions across the country. They can happen at any time and in any place, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

MYTH: The best thing to do when you feel an earthquake is to stand in a door frame.
FACT: The best plan of action when you feel an earthquake is to drop, cover and hold on.
Following these steps will give you the best opportunity to stay safe.

Now that you know the facts, it’s time to prepare. Having emergency supplies is the first step. Here’s what’s best to have in your earthquake emergency kit:

1. Water: We use water for drinking, cooking and washing. Experts recommend that everyone has at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Don’t forget your pets!

2. Food: Having shelf-stable foods — like canned goods, peanut butter and dried fruit — means they will keep longer, even without power. Healthy food in your supply can give you energy if you are asked to evacuate.

3. Small hygiene kit : Staying clean with hand sanitizer and wipes can help prevent the spread of germs.

4. First-aid kit: This is an essential! You can find small first-aid kits at many stores. If you’d like to create your own, add in gauze, bandages, antiseptic wipes and pain medication, as well as items for special needs you may have.

5. Flashlight + batteries: Earthquakes can be damaging. Losing power is common. Having a reliable flashlight with extra batteries can be helpful when it’s dark.

6. Portable cellphone charger: Your phone can be incredibly helpful for contacting emergency services, family members or even using the GPS functions if you are lost. You may not have access to a power outlet, so having a portable or solar charger is key.

Knowledge and preparedness are the best ways to prevent injury in disaster situations. Make sure you and your household have discussed earthquake safety procedures.

Help spread the word about earthquake safety by downloading and printing our Get Ready fact sheet, which is available in English or Spanish.You can even add your own logo!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Get ready: It’s time to set your clocks and check your stocks

Daylight saving time ends this Sunday, Nov. 3. It’s the perfect reminder to check that your emergency stockpile is up to date. Get Ready’s Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign helps you to be prepared for a disaster before it happens.

If you haven’t created a stockpile yet, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time. Get Ready has fact sheets that include everything that you may need.

Here’s a quick checklist of items to include in your stockpile:

  • A three-day supply of water, with one gallon of water per person per day
  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food and a manual can opener
  •  Flashlights, a radio and batteries
  •  First-aid kit
  • Prescription drugs, sanitary supplies and diapers
  • Pet supplies

Disasters usually happen with little or no warning. You may not have time to go to the store. Think about what you will be eating and using during an emergency. For stockpile recipe ideas, check out Get Ready’s emergency preparedness cookbook.

And don’t forget: Daylight savings time changes also are a great reminder to check the batteries in your smoke alarms!

For more tips on what supplies to include your emergency preparedness kit, check out Get Ready’s resources and share them on social media.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Becoming personally prepared by region

Know what disasters, like fires, happen in your region.
(By GomezDavid, courtesy iStockphoto)
Emergencies tend to catch us when we’re not looking. So we need to plan for them. But being prepared isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  Preparedness looks different based on where you live.

Natural disasters and disease outbreak can happen anywhere. But not every state is affected the same way. The Federal Emergency Management Agency keeps track of disasters for every state. Since 1953, California has had the most fire emergencies with 227. People in New York and Virginia experience more snow emergencies. Those in Georgia and Arkansas get the most tornadoes.  Florida and North Carolina are more likely to be impacted by hurricanes. Every state is different.

Luckily, we can predict when and where some disasters will happen. They tend to repeat in the same location. But sometimes we don’t get a warning, so it’s important to prepare for your area.

The first step toward becoming personally prepared is identifying the disasters in your community. Hurricanes, earthquakes and winter storms will require different emergency steps and supplies. Read the fact sheets most relevant to you carefully. If you don’t see a link for a disaster common in your region, we have more tips online.

After you’ve figured out the disasters common in your area, make a plan. Ask yourself what you should include in your emergency stockpile.  How much water will you need? Talk about an emergency evacuation route with your friends and family. 

Once you’ve put together a personalized plan, practice it. If you have kids, practice with them too. You need emergency drills at home like in school. While preparedness isn’t a one-size-fits-all, everyone can prepare for likely disasters. That can make them a little less disastrous!