Friday, November 17, 2017

DYK? Hot water and antimicrobial soaps are not better for washing hands

We all know the drill. Before you eat, after you use the restroom, after handling garbage — and at many other times — wash your hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Get Ready, hand-washing is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

However, there are a lot of factors that can go into hand-washing. How long should you lather with soap? How long should you rinse? How hot should the water be? Should you use antimicrobial soaps?

According to a recent study in the Journal of Food Protection, the temperature of the water used for hand-washing doesn’t help to kill bacteria. Only boiling water — ouch! — kills bacteria. Water temperature does, however, affect how comfortable you are, and that can affect how long you wash your hands, which does have an impact.

The study found that 20 seconds of lathering was significantly better than 5 seconds of lathering. There wasn’t much difference between washing for 10 and 20 seconds. CDC recommends singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, which lasts roughly 20 seconds, while lathering and washing. Lathering for more than 30 seconds doesn’t necessarily mean your hands will be cleaner. In fact, some studies suggest that it may spread bacteria to other surfaces.

Antimicrobial soaps are also not recommended. Normal soaps clean just as effectively while “antibacterial ingredients can do more harm than good over the long term,” according to Janet Woodcock of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Why? The use of too many antimicrobials among consumers can lead to the creation of pan-resistant bacteria, or bacteria that can’t be treated medically. If you were to ever get infected by pan-resistant bacteria, there might not yet be a cure.

For more hand-washing tips, check out Get Ready’s hand-washing page. There are great fact sheets to share with loved ones or even tape to the mirror of your employee restroom. Remember to wash your hands, use normal soap and water, and lather and rinse for 20 seconds!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Plague is not just in the past: Disease outbreak strikes Madagascar

Just when you thought plague was a thing of the past, the disease has made a comeback in Madagascar. 

According to the World Health Organization, the number of people infected by Madagascar’s plague outbreak jumped from 197 to 684 in October. Almost 100 deaths were reported. 

Most of the cases are pneumonic plague, which can easily be passed between humans through droplets in the air. That’s different from bubonic plague, which is spread by bites from infected fleas and small animals.

Although the overall threat of disease spread within Madagascar is high, the global risk is low, according to WHO. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for a disease outbreak.

If you are in an area at risk for plague and notice fever, chills, head and body aches, and weakness, vomiting and nausea, seek medical assistance. If left untreated, plague can be deadly. Fortunately, it can be treated with the help of antibiotics if they are delivered early.

To prevent the spread of plague, avoid close contact with people who are coughing and reduce time spent in crowded areas with lots of germs. If you’re traveling to Madagascar, get advice on prevention, treatment and risks from your doctor before you go. 

For more on bubonic plague, including info on areas that are most at risk in the U.S., see our Get Ready blog post.

Friday, November 03, 2017

It’s time to set your clocks and check your stocks!

Daylight saving time is coming to an end this Sunday. When you reset your clocks — or when they reset themselves, as our gadgets tend to do these days — use it as a reminder to check your emergency stockpile. That way, when a disaster happens, you’ll have everything you need in one place.

Think about it: During an emergency, the last thing you want to find is that your batteries have corroded, or that all your flashlights have gone missing. An emergency is not the right time to be running out to the store. Our Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign has everything you need to make sure your stockpile is good to go.

Take a few minutes to see that everything you need is in your stockpile and that nothing has gone bad or leaked, such as food and water. Everyone should have at least three days of food and water stored at all times, including one gallon of water per person per day.

Your stockpile should also have basic supplies such as flashlights, batteries, a radio and first-aid supplies. Other items, such as a battery-operated cellphone charger and lanterns, are also useful. Check out this Get Ready checklist to see what you need to add to your supplies. If you don't have time, room or money to get them all, these items are the most essential.

Friday, October 27, 2017

How to have fun and avoid Halloween hazards

The spookiest time of the year is right around the corner! Do you know what’s even more frightening than ghosts and monsters? Being unprepared for infectious diseases and natural disasters.

Since Halloween falls during hurricane season and right in the middle of flu season, staying safe this holiday is important. With 41 million trick-or-treaters in the U.S., germs can run amok whether you’re traipsing from house to house in costume or staying in to hand out candy. And beware; since this hurricane season is becoming one of the most active in history, there are other scary dangers to keep an eye out for.

Fortunately, there are lots of tips and tricks to make this Halloween a safe and healthy treat for parents and kids — learning how to get ready this holiday is one of them. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Protect yourself from disease. Vaccinations will give you superhero powers and keep you safe from evil germs. You can find a place to get your flu shot online via HealthMap and fly over to the closest clinic with your cape or witches’ broom. For more about the seasonal flu, check out our factsheet.
  • Keep bugs at bay. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or upper sleeve, or with your elbow to keep your hands clean. And before eating any yummy treats or handing them out, make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Just think about all the candy, bowls and pumpkins you may be touching!
  • Get to know your neighbors. Not only is it good to learn which houses you or your kids are going to get candy from, it is also important to know where you can safely shelter in place. This means that when danger lurks you take immediate shelter, whether it’s in your home or a trusted neighbor’s instead. 

Although ghosts, goblins and ghouls can be spooky, there is nothing scarier than a disaster. That’s why it is important you follow these tips and get ready for Halloween. Don’t forget to have fun!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Test your emergency preparedness knowledge with Get Ready’s new quiz!

How much do you know about preparing for natural disasters? Take Get Ready’s new preparedness quiz to find out!

In the wake of recent natural disasters, APHA’s Get Ready campaign wants to make preparing for emergencies easier, more fun and engaging. With our new quiz, you can test your knowledge and challenge others! From hurricanes to earthquakes and wildfires, you are bound to learn something new. No matter your score, it’s always a good idea to check out our free factsheets for all the emergency preparedness information you could possibly need. Be informed about potential disasters in your area, how you will receive alerts and where you should go if you have to evacuate.

A natural disaster can happen at any time, so make sure you are prepared.