Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

Today's post is by Hannah d'Entremont, a public relations and political science students at West Virginia University.  She's also one of APHA's summer interns!

Do you remember how bad Hurricane Katrina was? What about Hurricane Sandy? Both hurricanes — which hit New Orleans and the northeast U.S., respectively — caused a lot of damage. They also caused many preventable injuries and deaths.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic began on June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Hurricanes can be dangerous and life-threatening. So it’s important to understand ways to stay safe.

Hurricanes are rated on a scale of one through five, with one being the weakest and five being the strongest. Sandy made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, and Katrina was a Category 3 when it hit Louisiana. But all hurricanes are dangerous, no matter their category. Strong winds and debris can cause damage to people, homes and communities.
Super-storm Sandy making landfall in the United States.
Photo credit: Rob Gutro,
Goddard Space Flight Center

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that this year’s hurricane season should include six to 11 named storms, three to six of which should become hurricanes.
With that in mind, it makes sense to be prepared. Learn about your community’s hurricane warning system, evacuation routes and nearby hurricane shelters. (You should also know these things if you’re vacationing in an area at-risk for hurricanes.) Make a plan with your family. Write down emergency phone numbers and identify a meeting place in case you have to evacuate in a hurry and all family members are not together. Never ignore evacuation orders.

You should also have supplies such as food, water, medicine, safety items, personal care products and an emergency kit for your car packed and ready to go. Include paper maps in your kit in case electricity and cellphones aren’t working. Fill up your gas tank in advance if a storm is predicted to head your way.

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Guest blog: There’s no “I” in team: Helping prepare your community for a disaster with CERT training

Today’s guest blog is by Mighty Fine, MPH, deputy director of APHA’s Center for Professional Development, Public Health Systems and Partnerships.

Photo credit: Toby Amodeo
As a member of APHA’s Get Ready team, I’m well aware of the importance of emergency preparedness. I’m not wishing for a disaster, but if one came, I’d be ready.

However, I haven’t paid close attention to the preparedness needs of my local Washington, D.C., community. So I decided to get more involved by participating in a free Community Emergency Response Team training.

Participating in this 20-hour course was a great way for me to learn basic disaster response skills and relief. The course consisted of eight units, addressing topics such as fire safety, terrorism, preparedness and psychology.

We watched informative videos, interacted with first responders, reviewed case studies and participated in demonstrations. All of our activities were done in small teams, which highlighted the importance of working together during a disaster.

The training was truly a hands-on learning experience. I rolled up my sleeves and really got into it. We learned how to make a splint to support an injured limb, which is a critical skill during an emergency, especially if supplies are limited.

We were also taught how to extinguish a fire. We learned the acronym PASS, which stands for “Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Spray.” By remembering these steps I’ll always know the proper way to use a fire extinguisher.

After taking this course I feel better positioned to help my community respond effectively to an emergency. CERT trainings are offered in communities around the U.S.  Once you’ve completed a training, you can even join a local CERT program to assist first responders in relief efforts.

Check out a training near you so you can help your community be more prepared, too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Census Bureau graphic shows Americans have room for improvement on preparedness

If disaster strikes tomorrow, where would you get your water? Nearly half of all Americans would be in trouble if their water supply was cut off in an emergency.

That’s a finding from the 2013 American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development. The survey results, released in March, found only 54 percent of Americans have a three-day supply of water in their home.

To raise awareness, the Census Bureau released a new infographic this month showing just how ready — or not — Americans are for emergencies.
Among the survey’s findings: Only about half of Americans have an emergency evacuation kit prepared, and just 37 percent have an emergency plan for dealing with disaster. No one likes to think it could happen to us. But the truth is that floods, tornadoes, diseases and more can affect all of our lives.

But the Census Bureau graphic shows that it’s not all bad news. When it comes to having food around, we’re doing really well. And a lot of our houses are clearly numbered. That makes it easier for emergency responders to find us when we need help.

It might look like a lot to think about, but it’s much easier to get ready now than during a disaster. With that in mind, here’s a checklist to help build your emergency stockpile!

Measuring America: How Ready Are We?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summertime fun means being summer safe

Summer officially begins next week on June 21. It’s a great time to get outside and get active. Whether you’re scoring winning goals on the beach or climbing mountains with friends, knowing how to be prepared during summer is helpful.

Photo courtesy of
It’s already heating up out there. Summer sun can bring sunburn, dehydration and more. Make sure you find a way to stay cool, whether that means sitting in the shade or taking a break in an air-conditioned building. Drink a lot of water, too.

Summer can also bring some extreme weather, like hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. Whether you are at home or on vacation, know the risks in your area. Keep an eye on the news and know where to go in case there is an emergency.

Summertime can do more than change the weather. Ticks and mosquitoes love the higher temps. You’re outside, they’re outside. Grab some bug spray. Make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET, and do a tick check when you get inside. Ticks and mosquitoes can carry some unpleasant diseases.  Trust us, you don’t want to know what they’re like.

And don’t forget: power outages are pretty common in summer. If there is a weather disaster in your area, check with your water company to make sure your water is safe to drink after. Keep your emergency stockpile up to date. You’ve got one of those, right? If you don’t, here’s a list to get you started.

Check out all of our Summer Safe fact sheets for more info. Simply knowing what to do and what to watch for can keep you safe. Now that you’ve got all that, get outside and enjoy the summer!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Get Ready podcast: Creating healthy, safe homes

We spend a lot of time at home. So it’s important to make sure that the places we live are safe. It starts with where our houses are built and how they are made. That’s why we need to know and understand local health threats before we build. If people know the risks common to their area, it’s easier to build to help guard against them.

Still, homes that have health problems are located all over the U.S. Many put people in contact with health threats like radon, lead and more.

In our new podcast, APHA’s Get Ready campaign spoke with Dr. Warren Friedman, senior advisor to the director at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, to learn more about making safe homes.

PHIL Image 19316
CDC // Theresa Roebuck
Dr. Friedman’s office targets the roots of these problems. Instead of just cleaning up, they figure out where and how the problem starts.

Even with good preparation though, emergencies happen. Dr. Freidman noted that we learn a lot of lessons after disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. He said as we rebuild affected communities we take those lessons to reduce the consequences of future disasters.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development is using what we’ve learned to come up with better ways to prepare and respond, and to help federal and local governments work together to keep us all safer.

To hear more about resilient communities, listen to our newest Get Ready Report.  And check out our new home safety infographic for more ways to make your home safe!