Friday, September 26, 2014

Breaking down obstacles to preparedness and becoming strong in the face of disasters

Today’s guest blog is by Weston Lee, a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Youth Preparedness Council, who works to educate youth in his community. A student at Weber High School in Pleasant View, Utah, Lee’s training includes CPR, first aid and student response. While getting students involved in emergency preparedness can be difficult, Weston says that working with “someone who is engaged, excited and, most of all, actually interested in what they do” can make a difference with youth.
 

What do cows produce during an earthquake? A milkshake! On a more serious note, what does being prepared produce during an emergency? President Barack Obama said that when our nation faces crisis, we will respond determined and resilient as a result of our preparedness.

The main idea for emergency preparedness is to get a kit, make a plan, be informed and get involved. Make sure you are ready in your family, business or work, school and community. Work with your community and learn about possible hazards or disasters that can happen in your area. Social media is a great way to keep up to date with news and information.

One of the things I like to address when teaching emergency preparedness are the barriers related to becoming prepared. Some obstacles are:
  • Lack of concern. Not believing that an event will happen here. Or that they will not worry about it unless it actually occurs.
  • Lack of thought on the subject.
  • Lack of knowledge or information, such as people saying, “I don’t know how to do this.”
  • Lack of resources, whether it is time or money related.
  • Avoidance. Avoiding the situation of preparedness for various reasons.
  • Or a feeling of fatalism, saying that whatever you do will not matter.
As you venture into becoming more emergency prepared, take time to set aside any barriers or obstacles you may have. In order for us to be determined and strong in the face of the disaster, we can become better prepared by making a kit, making a plan and being informed.

Be disaster aware and take action to prepare by taking part in America’s PrepareAthon during National Preparedness Month this September. Get your family and community involved by following weekly themes and using the preparedness resources.

There are resources available that teach about different hazards and disasters, and provide recommendations and resources on how to become more prepared before, during and after an emergency.

For a smooth start on becoming emergency prepared, visit the American Red Cross, Ready.gov, Get Ready and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

Sept. 30 is National PrepareAthon Day. Plan a preparedness activity and register your family, school or organization as a participant.






Tuesday, September 16, 2014

APHA announces the winners of its Get Ready Tips from Tots Photo Contest! And the winners are…

One of our Tips from Tots Photo Contest winners.
Thanks to everyone who entered APHA’s Get Ready Tips from Tots Photo Contest. We received so many adorable photos of prepared babies that judging was difficult. They are all such cuties!

In the end, we were able to narrow it down to 16 winners that had that special something — and they’re now sharing preparedness advice in our new 2015 calendar. In celebration of Get Ready Day today, the calendar is available for free on the Get Ready website.

From keeping cool in a heat wave to staying safe in a snow storm, these charming tots make learning about preparedness fun. And they’ll look completely adorbs on your fridge, bulletin board or office wall!

The 2015 Tips from Tots calendar can be downloaded and printed. Or pick up a printed copy at APHA's 142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans in November. We'll be passing out copies of the calendar at booth 847 at the expo!

The Tips from Tots contest comes on the heels of the Get Ready campaign’s successful 2013 and 2014 photo contests, which used cats and dogs to share preparedness advice. If you liked those calendars, look out — these tots are even cuter!

Check out the winning photos in our baby photo gallery and share them with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.

And while you’re there, browse some of our favorite runners-up photos.

Which photo do you think the judges should have included in the calendar? Vote for your favorite!

 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

EV-D68? What’s that? What you need to know about the enterovirus outbreak


Protect yourself from EV-D68 by
washing your hands properly.
You may have heard lately about an outbreak of respiratory illness that’s making kids in a few states sick. The bug that’s causing the illnesses is called enterovirus D68, or sometimes just EV-D68.
 
In Missouri and Illinois, hospitals are seeing more kids than usual with enterovirus D68-related illness. A few other states are looking into cases of severe respiratory illness that may also be linked to enterovirus D68.
 
So what is enterovirus? It’s a type of bug that lives in our bodies, yet can make us sick. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses and they have different names so that researchers and health providers can tell them apart. Enterovirus infections are common in the summer and fall, though they can happen any time of year.
 
The main way someone catches enterovirus is by touching something that has the bug on it and then touching their nose, mouth or eyes. You can also catch it by coming in close contact with another person that has the bug.
 
These bugs are very common and most people who get infected don’t become sick. Some people who get sick feel like they have a common cold, with symptoms like fever, body aches, sneezing and a runny nose.
 
However, babies and people with weak immune systems, such as people with HIV or those receiving cancer treatments, are at high risk to get very sick from enterovirus. People with illnesses such as asthma may also get very sick.
 
There is no vaccine that can protect you from this bug, but you can take steps to reduce your chance of getting sick:
  • Practice good hand hygiene: Wash your hands often. Be especially sure to wash your hands before you touch your face, after using the toilet and after changing diapers.
  • Break out the hand sanitizer: If you are not able to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol and rub a good amount onto your hands. Remember that hand sanitizer is only for when soap and water are not available and does not take the place of hand-washing.
  • Keep it clean: Clean and disinfect surfaces that are used a lot or that everyone touches, like door handles, light switches and tables.
If you or someone in your care has symptoms that cause you concern, especially a baby or someone whose immune system is not strong, it’s best to get them checked by your health care provider.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Celebrate APHA’s Get Ready Day and spread the preparedness message on Sept. 16

How prepared are you for an emergency or disaster? Have you developed a disaster plan for your family? Do you know how to protect yourself from measles, the flu or other infectious diseases? Most Americans are not prepared for public health emergencies or disasters.
APHA’s Get Ready Day is raising awareness about community preparedness. Held each year in conjunction with National Preparedness Month, the event will be observed Tuesday, Sept. 16. No matter where you live, there is always a possibility of a public health emergency, from earthquakes and hurricanes to infectious diseases.
So what can you do? First, assess how prepared you and your family are: Do you have an emergency plan? A three-day supply of food and water? Where would your family meet during a disaster if they could not go home? How would you leave town if you had to evacuate? Check out these planning tips and information on emergency stockpiling for help in getting yourself and your family prepared.
Once you are up to date, bring the preparedness message to your community on Get Ready Day. Here are a few ideas:
  • Sponsor a preparedness talk at your local senior center or hold a community meeting. Invite someone from your local health department or the American Red Cross to be a speaker.
  • Insert preparedness planning materials into your church or religious organization’s bulletin, and post information at your library.
  • Work with a local grocery store to promote preparedness and stockpiling to shoppers through displays or fliers. Pass out lists of what people should have to be prepared.
Thanks to your help this Get Ready Day, we’ll all be better prepared!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Avoid the risk from measles: Get vaccinated

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. And yet measles cases in the country hit a 20-year high this summer. How can that be?

When health officials declared measles eliminated, it was because the disease was no longer considered native in the U.S. Thanks to vaccination, measles — which once caused 3 million to 4 million cases a year in the U.S. — isn’t continuously transmitted here anymore.

But the disease is still common in many countries around the world. Unvaccinated travelers can bring measles to the U.S. with them.

Globally, 20 million people get measles each year, and about 164,000 people die from the disease. Measles can also have lasting complications, including loss of hearing or lifelong brain damage.

Measles is caused by a virus and is very contagious. It can be spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It’s so contagious, in fact, “that any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re unvaccinated, you can get measles from an infected person. Unvaccinated children and pregnant women are especially at risk for contracting measles.

Some families choose not to vaccinate their children while some are not able to get vaccinated against measles because of allergies or other pre-existing health conditions. By vaccinating your child, you protect not just him or her but you help protect others in your community who are unable to be vaccinated by slowing or preventing the spread of the disease to others.

Luckily, measles is easily preventable. Talk to your health provider about measles vaccination for you and your family.