Monday, October 20, 2014

A double threat: Driving and disasters

Photo: Marvin Nauman, FEMA
Disasters can happen when you’re on the road. Make sure you’re prepared for disasters where and whenever they may happen.

If you’re heading on a trip, find out what disasters are likely to happen where you’re driving. Have emergency supplies in your car. Common supplies include food and water, a first-aid kit, flashlights, batteries and a battery-operated radio. You may also want to have an ice scraper and a bag of sand in case you find yourself in a slippery situation.

Finally, make sure your car is ready for a disaster. This means having a full tank of gas, enough air in the tires and working windshield wipers.

Here are some specific tips to help you stay safe if a natural disaster happens while you’re in a vehicle:
  • Tornadoes: Seek shelter. If there is flying debris, pull over and park.
  • Floods: Never drive in flooded areas. Water can be much deeper than it appears.
  • Landslides: Watch for fallen rocks and other signs of a landslide.
  • Earthquakes: Drive out of traffic and park away from trees and other things that may fall.
  • Wildfires: Don’t drive through heavy smoke. If you have to stop, park away from trees and bushes, leave the headlights on and turn off the car.
  • Blizzards: Pull off the road and turn on hazard lights. Run the heater and engine for 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is on, crack a window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not leave your car unless you know where you can find shelter.
If you resume driving after a disaster, be careful to avoid downed power lines, cracks in the road and any other road hazards. Remember: It may be difficult to abandon your car, but it’s important that you don’t hesitate if the situation calls for it.

To learn more about disasters and driving, check out our Get Ready fact sheet.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What’s that beep? Smoke alarms can save your life

Photo: U.S. Fire Administration
Did you know that fires and burns are the third leading cause of home injuries?

The National Fire Protection Association says that on average, seven people died in U.S. home fires per day from 2007-2011. Most victims are very young children and seniors.

However, many such tragedies can often be prevented with a smoke alarm. More than a third of home fire deaths happen in homes that don’t have smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms are inexpensive and can alert you when there is a fire in your home. It’s important that smoke alarms are installed up on the wall or ceiling in every floor and room of the house, as smoke rises. Periodically test your fire alarms to make sure they are working properly.

Check the battery and switch it out when you change your clocks for daylight saving time. If you have a smoke alarm that’s more than 10 years old, it’s a good idea to replace it.

For more tips on preventing disasters at home, read our Get Ready fact sheet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Global Hand-Washing Day works to prevent spread of disease

Today marks Global Hand-Washing Day, with events being held around the world. The observance spreads the message that regularly washing your hands with clean, running water and soap is an important step in keeping yourself from getting sick and spreading germs to others.
 
Hand-washing with soap is one of the easiest ways to prevent diarrhea, a leading cause of death for children worldwide, as well as acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
 
Remember, just because your hands don’t have any visible dirt on them doesn’t mean that they are clean. Here are some tips when it comes to hand-washing, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • Wash your hands several times a day, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • After wetting your hands with water and applying soap, rub your hands together. Make sure to clean the back of your hands, under your nails and between your fingers, and continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • When water and soap are unavailable, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Remember that hand sanitizers do not kill all types of germs, and should not replace routine hand-washing with soap.
 
For tips and tools to use at your events, check out our Get Ready hand-washing fact sheets, which are available in both English and Spanish.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Get Ready podcast: Why vaccinations are even more important as we age

Immunizations are critical for seniors.
Photo: CDC/ Judy Schmidt
In our latest Get Ready Report podcast, we speak with Steven Cohen, an assistant professor within the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Epidemiology Division, at Virginia Commonwealth University. Cohen explains why immunizations are critical for seniors.
 
“Vaccines are so important at every stage of life, and particularly in older adults,” Cohen says. “Our immune systems tend to decline over time.”
 
Because of that vulnerability, seniors are more likely to be hospitalized or die from diseases like pneumonia or the flu, he said.
 
Cohen discusses the myths and facts of vaccinations for seniors in the new podcast. Everyone 6 months and older should receive their flu vaccination annually, even if they received one last year or the formula in the flu shot hasn’t changed.
 
“Getting vaccinated every year is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent a major cause of death, and it’s extremely cheap and usually available,” he said.
 
Listen to the podcast now or read the transcript. For more information on seniors and immunization, take a look at Get Ready’s fact sheet on vaccinations for seniors.



Friday, October 03, 2014

Climate change and heat waves: Stay cool with tips on dealing with high heat in our new podcast

Photo: Patrick Benko/APHA
The recent U.N. summit in New York City was a reminder that the effects of climate change are already being felt, both in the U.S. and around the world. One of those effects is extreme heat, including more intense hot days and heat waves.
 
Whether it happens mid-summer or unexpectedly on a fall day, a really hot day can be bad for your health. In our latest podcast, APHA’s Get Ready campaign spoke with Ethel Taylor, an epidemiologist with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, about tips on heat safety and preparedness.
 
“It’s really important for people to remember three things: to stay cool, to stay hydrated and to stay informed,” Taylor says in the podcast.
 
The effects of extreme heat vary based on region, so it’s important for people to pay attention to heat advisories for their areas. In addition, people should identify a location they can go to in the case that they don’t have access to air conditioning in their homes such as a library, shopping mall or local community center.
 
If you have a pet, Taylor says it’s important to keep them cool while keeping them safe and to “make sure that they’re in a shady location and that they have plenty of water available. Never leave your pet unattended in the car even if it’s just for a few minutes.”
 
Among the tips for coping with high heat:
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Wear light, cool clothing
  • Drink water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages
  • Take cool showers often
  • Learn about the symptoms of heat illness
For more information on how to prepare for and prevent heat related illness, listen to the podcast and download Get Ready’s heat waves fact sheet.