Friday, June 17, 2016

Disasters and kids: APHA shares tips for well-being

Image: FEMA/Patsy Lynch
Children find comfort in daily routines. They wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, play with friends. When emergencies or disasters disrupt their routine, kids can become confused or frightened.

So how can we help kids be more resilient before, during and after emergencies? Four of APHA’s member groups set out to answer that question during a May webinar.

Organized by the Injury Control and Emergency Services Section, Public Health Education Health Promotion Section, Maternal and Child Health Section and Mental Health Section, the webinar brought together real-world experts in community preparedness, emergency medicine and children’s mental health to weigh in.

A recording of the webinar, “Fostering Resilience in Children” is online now.

Parents can also get tips for preparing kids for disasters via our Get Ready fact sheet. Our advice? Talk with your children about the kind of emergencies that can happen and encourage them to share their fears. Reassure your children that while an emergency may be unlikely, getting prepared will help keep them and their family safe.

You can also share our kids’ preparedness fact sheet, written at their reading level, and print out our Get Ready preparedness games and puzzles.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Heading out for vacation? Know your risks for hurricanes

In many parts of the country, summer is the ideal season to travel or relax on the shore. However, summer is not all fun. It’s also hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30.

Hurricanes and tropical storms cause heavy rains, winds and floods in many areas of the U.S. during the season, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Areas along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are among those affected, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii and even parts of the Southwest and Pacific coast.

Before you make vacation plans, research your destination. This FEMA map shows areas impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms over the past 160 years.

If your vacation location is at risk, you should make an emergency supply kit. Your kit should contain all the tools you need if a hurricane hits. For example, it should include food, water, maps, batteries and a flashlight. It should also include first-aid supplies like bandages, a thermometer and prescription medications.

You should also learn about local alert systems in the area you’re visiting. Sign up for alerts from the National Weather Service and download the American Red Cross’ hurricane app. If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, ask staff how you’ll be informed if a hurricane is coming and what the plans are for shelter or evacuation.

Follow the recommendations of officials if a hurricane is on its way. If you’re told to leave the area, don’t hesitate.

For more tips on hurricane preparedness, check out our Get Ready hurricane fact sheet.

Written by: Sophia Goswami

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Share the facts on Zika in English and Spanish

Photo: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith
How much do you know about Zika virus? If you’re reading this, chances are you have some knowledge of the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and is of growing concern to public health.

However, many Americans are confused about Zika, recent polls have shown. For example, an April survey found 40 percent of people didn’t know the virus could be spread by sex. While Zika virus has not been transmitted by mosquitoes to humans in U.S. states yet, there’s a good chance it will be soon. So now’s the time to bone up on the facts.

You can help share information on Zika with your family, friends and community with APHA’s Get Ready fact sheet. Available now in English and Spanish, the fact sheet explains how Zika is spread, how it can be prevented and who’s most at risk. Organizations can even add their logo to the fact sheet.

Read the fact sheet, share it on social media and download the PDF. And while you’re at it, tell Congress to fund Zika prevention and research so public health can be prepared, too.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What is an Emerging Infectious Disease?

When an infectious disease emerges, how do public health laboratory scientists respond to contain the threat?

Enjoy this great video from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL):

What is an Emerging Infectious Disease? from APHL on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Staying fit can boost both health and preparedness

Photo: Patrick Benko
The benefits of physical activity in everyday life are well known. But physical fitness can also play a big difference in how resilient you are when faced with a disaster.

Consider what happens after a large storm, for example. Your ability to move around can be hindered by fallen trees, snow or standing water. That means slippery conditions, trip hazards and major detours.

At some point, you’ll have to start cleaning up all of that storm-related mess. Trees and debris are heavy, and there will probably be a lot of it. Heat, cold, dust or mold can make what would normally be easy a herculean task. And on top of all that, you’ll have the stress and mental exhaustion that comes with coping with a disaster.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how physically prepared you are for a disaster. Can you walk long distances or stand for an extended amount of time? Are you able to fill sand bags or shovel snow? What if you had to carry large items or children?

Like any other preparedness activity, the time to start is now. Begin by assessing your current physical fitness. Talk to a doctor and be honest about your starting point. Then choose an activity that you’ll want to continue.

You can even turn your physical fitness activity into a preparedness one. For example, you can:
  • garden to increase food supplies or wildfire prevention,
  • walk with neighbors to boost community ties and resiliency,
  • bicycle to have an alternative transportation option, or
  • volunteer with a local preparedness organization or Community Emergency Response Team.
No matter how you choose to physically prepare, you’ll see benefits in both your overall health and your ability to cope with disasters.

If you’re looking for a fun way to boost your fitness, APHA’s 1 Billion Steps Challenge is happening now through May 31. As you work to become healthier, you can also make a difference toward making the U.S. the healthiest nation. We’re even offering prizes! Sign up now.