Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hurricane season is on its way, and it may be another doozy

Do you remember Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria? We sure do, and so do people in Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of them are still recovering, in fact. The three storms were so destructive that the World Meteorological Organization has retired their names. 

Last year was one of the most active seasons for Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. With 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, 2017 was one for the record books.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association hasn’t released its 2018 hurricane season predictions yet, but a few other groups have. Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project is predicting another above-average season, with 14 named storms.

It’s not just the number of hurricanes we have to look out for, though. It’s also how severe they are. A study that just came out says climate change is heating up the oceans, which is making hurricanes worse. Waters in the U.S. Gulf were hotter last year than any time on record, which fueled Hurricane Harvey as it headed toward Texas, researchers say.

“As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey,” says Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and lead author of the study.

With the Atlantic hurricane season starting June 1, now is the time to begin planning for your safety. Know where you’ll go if you’re told to evacuate and how you’ll get there — and never ignore orders to evacuate. Have your emergency supplies updated and ready to take with you. Make sure your family members know how to communicate and meet up. And don’t forget to make plans for your pets.

Get more hurricane preparedness tips in our Get Ready fact sheet.

Photo credit: Mariele Vargas sits with ruined furniture and personal property from her home in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, in November 2017. Her home was destroyed when Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. (Photo by Andrea Booher, courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Donate food to Stamp Out Hunger and help prepare your community

During Hurricane Harvey last year, thousands of people were displaced from their homes and were forced to seek shelter. They also sought out food, with many of them turning to the Houston Food Bank, which provided 750,000 pounds of food and supplies a day.

Food banks play an important role in community preparedness, because they are often where people turn to for assistance after a disaster or emergency. That’s why it’s important to support food banks year-round. This weekend, it will be a lot easier to do so, thanks to a national food drive that will be coming to your door.

When your postal carriers drop by this Saturday, they will be ready to pick up more than just mail. Saturday, May 12, is the national Stamp Out Hunger food drive, during which carriers pick up food donations that are set out next to U.S. mailboxes.

Held annually since 1992, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive is the nation’s largest one-day food drive. The event is organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers with support from the U.S. Postal Service and other sponsors.

To take part, just leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal, next to your mailbox before your mail comes on Saturday. Food items should be in non-breakable containers, such as boxes and cans, and should not be expired.

If you’re not sure whether your postal carrier will be taking part in the food drive Saturday, contact your local post office.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Summer, summer, summer: Oh, oh, it’s magic (but watch out for storms)

Who’s ready for summer? Bright sunshine, blue skies and warm weather are a big “yes, please!” for most people. Frankly, we’re counting down the days to the summertime merry-go-round here at Get Ready.

But with summer weather also comes summer storms. And summer storms can mean high winds, power outages, lightning, flooding and even water contamination. Way to rain on our summer parade, Mother Nature.

The good news is our new Get Ready infographic on summer storms can help you stay safe.
It’s a quick and easy rundown of some of the risks you may face and ways to avoid them.

Post the infographic on your website, share it on social media or print out a few copies. It’s great for hanging on break room bulletin boards or home refrigerators. There’s even a space for you to add your logo.

In a jiff, you’ll be ready to get out there and enjoy that summer magic.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Be aware of flooding dangers

Most of the time, brief bouts of spring and summer rain are a welcome break. After all, plants, animals and humans all need water to survive.

By Joe Center Media
But with too much rain comes flooding, which can be a huge problem. A sudden buildup of fast-flowing water can be dangerous for many reasons, with drowning the biggest concern. More than 125 people died from flooding in the U.S. in 2016, so it’s important to take caution and never drive or walk through floodwaters.

What’s in floodwaters can also be harmful to your health. Chemicals, sewage and other dangers can be present. When dealing with floodwater, wear protective clothing like masks, rubber gloves and boots. If you have a cut or rash, keep it covered with a waterproof bandage. Clean your skin well with soap and water.

The dangers don’t end when floodwaters recede. That’s because flooding can leave behind pools of water. These are perfect places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Empty and scrub things that hold water in your yard or neighborhood, such as buckets, planters, toys, birdbaths and trash containers. If you have water that can’t be dumped, consider using mosquito larvicide.

Floodwater in homes can also lead to mold. Mold can cause breathing problems, especially in kids and seniors. To protect yourself, clean and dry your home as soon as you can. Air out buildings by opening windows and running fans. Clean surfaces with hot water and soap. Throw away wet food, medicine or anything else you can’t clean or dry quickly. Remember the rule: When in doubt, throw it out!

Clean up any mold you find with a mix of bleach and water. Again, make sure you have protection, such as gloves, boots and masks.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that your home is ready for flooding year-round. A good first step is to buy flood insurance. Next, put together an evacuation plan and discuss it with your family. Make sure you’re stocked up on food and supplies and have them ready to go if you need to evacuate.

By being ready for flooding before and after a storm, you can make sure you and your home stay safe and healthy. Check out our Get Ready fact sheet for more tips.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Child care centers and flu: Are they prepared?

By monkeybusinessimages courtesy iStockphoto
Child care centers do lots of things to make sure the kids they watch over are protected. Safe play spaces, healthy food and an attentive adult eye are common features.

But when it comes to a serious, widespread outbreak of flu, child care centers may not be so prepared, scientists found recently.

In a study published last year, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 child care center directors about practices such as infection control, communication, immunization and health care training.

Unfortunately, the study found readiness was low: Only 7 percent of directors had taken actions to prepare their centers for a pandemic flu outbreak. The study looked at pandemic flu in particular because it has the potential to be very dangerous, especially for young children — the main users of child care centers.

Pandemic flu is different than seasonal flu for a few reasons: It’s easily spread, it’s a new type of flu most people don’t have immunity to and there won’t be a vaccine. And as the name implies, it’s happening around the world, meaning lots of cases.

Child care centers can be doing more to protect kids from the flu, the researchers said. Directors should be trained by licensed professionals, such as health consultants, to educate staff on health and safety issues. That will help to increase awareness and knowledge of the flu pandemic.

Parents should also be actively involved. Ask questions. Learn how your child care center is taking action in preventing the spread of the flu. That’s important whether there is a flu pandemic or if it’s just a regular flu season.

There are also lots of ways that you can protect your child from the flu beyond the child care center. 

Remember, an annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent your child from flu.