Thursday, July 20, 2017

Heating things up: The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline’s popular summer questions

Today’s guest blog is by Janell Goodwin, a technical information specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, who tackles some of your summer food safety questions.

It’s summertime, and USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline agents are heating things up by answering your food safety questions! Hotline experts keep the public safe from foodborne illness by answering calls on all sorts of food safety topics.

As a technical information specialist on the hotline, the first question consumers usually ask is “Are you a real person?” The answer is “Yes!” The hotline has real, live people who single-handedly answer every one of your food safety questions. In fact, since the start of the hotline in 1985, more than 3 million calls from the public have been answered.

Summer is filled with tons of activities, festivals, concerts and most importantly, food! The hotline wants to make sure your summer is free from foodborne illness. When it comes to questions, we’ve probably heard them all. Here are a few of the most popular questions answered during summer:

I want to marinate my meat before I grill. I can just leave it on the counter while it’s marinating, right? No, marinating should be done in the refrigerator for safety.

Is it true that my hamburger is done when it turns mostly brown on the inside and the juices run clear? Your burger is only safe when it has reached an internal temperature of 160°F, as measured by a food thermometer.

I’m going to a park to grill and won’t have access to running water. What should I use to clean my hands and utensils? Bring water and soap for preparation and cleaning, or pack clean cloths and moist towelettes.

I’m going to a friend’s for a barbeque. I want to bring something to grill there. Is it safe to partially cook meat or poultry to finish grilling later? Never brown or partially cook meat or poultry to refrigerate and finish later because any bacteria present would not have been destroyed.

Is it OK to refrigerate or freeze leftover cooked hamburgers? If it’s refrigerated promptly after cooking — within two hours, or one hour if the temperature outside is above 90°F — it can be safely refrigerated or frozen.

Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. Or email or chat at AskKaren.gov.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Beat the heat with our new summer infographic

Summer is officially in full force, and that means beaches, water fights and delicious barbeques.

But, unfortunately, summer can also mean heat, dehydration, ticks, mosquitoes and other hazards. Luckily, APHA’s Get Ready campaign is here to show you how to reduce your risks and stay summer safe.

Our new summer infographic can help make this summer one you remember for the right reasons. The infographic is perfect for sharing via social media, websites and events in your neighborhood. Get tips for staying safe in the sun and getting cool.

For even more summertime safety tips, check out our new Storify report for easy-to-read information on water safety, sunscreen, weather disasters, food safety and more!

Still can’t get enough? Visit the Get Ready Summer Safe webpage for fact sheets, podcasts and other resources that can help keep your summertime activities safe from disasters.

Now you’re ready for some awesome summertime fun!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

All hail hail! 7 facts to know when balls of ice suddenly fall from the sky

Hailstorms are kind of like that cousin who never calls or texts to check in and then randomly decides to show up to your house uninvited. You never know when they might appear and mess up your day. Even if you’ve never been in a hailstorm, it’s not a bad thing to brush up on your knowledge. So here are seven quick facts everyone should know about hail.

1. Hail isn’t frozen rain. According to the National Geographic Society, the big difference is that hail falls from the sky in solid form. Freezing rain falls as a liquid and then freezes to a solid as it nears the ground.
2. It doesn’t need to be cold outside for hail to fall. Hail forms when updrafts in thunderstorms carry raindrops up into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere. That’s where they then freeze into balls of ice, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

3. You can’t just eyeball a thunderstorm in the distance for signs of hail. NOAA says that to determine the probability of hail, meteorologists need radar to look inside the storm. Because hail gives off more energy than raindrops, it’ll appear as the color red on radar.

4. Never underestimate the effects of hailstones. The National Weather Service reports that even small hail can cause significant damage.

5. If there are hailstorm warnings, make sure you close blinds or window shades to prevent possible injuries from broken glass. And don’t run outside during a hailstorm to protect your car or other property, says the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and doors.

6. Once a hailstorm is over, you can go out and check for damage. If shrubs, trees and plants are stripped of foliage, there’s a good possibility that your roof is also damaged. If that’s the case, cover the holes in your roof as well as any broken windows to prevent water from coming in.

7. Fun fact: The majority of hailstones are small in size, at about two inches in diameter. But volleyball-sized hailstones have been recorded, measuring eight inches in diameter. Picture that!

Photo courtesy FEMA/Win Henderson 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer fun means summer crowds: How to stay safe and healthy

Summer’s in full swing, and that means concerts, parades, vacations, baseball games and fireworks. Big summer events can mean big summer crowds. But have no fear — knowing a few tips about how to navigate crowds can help you stay safe in the sun.

First off, it’s important to know what type of event you’ll be going to. If it’s a big celebration like the Fourth of July, you may be outside for a long time. If you’re in the sun all day, take some advice from the American Red Cross and bring plenty of water and snacks.

Also important is to know the signs for heat stroke: red, hot skin; losing consciousness; shallow breathing; and a weak pulse. Wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes and face from the sun. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and make sure to reapply throughout the day.

What if the event is a nighttime concert? Big gatherings can create a higher risk for getting sick and hurt, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Infectious disease can spread more easily in crowds. So make sure you’re up on your immunizations and use hand sanitizer. Scope out where the first-aid area is so you can quickly head there if you need to. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you, and alcohol, which can affect your safety.

In general, it helps to always be prepared for emergencies and have a plan. Whatever event you’re going to, arrive early to check out the area. Find a safe place where your family and friends can meet if something happens. Also, be aware of where emergency exits are and stay near them. If there is a less crowded area to be in, move there.

Above all, listen for official instructions and take action right away if told to. For more tips, check out Get Ready’s fact sheet on crowd safety.Whatever event you end up attending this summer, make sure health and safety is part of the plan.

Photo courtesy PEXELS/Manuel Joseph 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Portugal wildfire claims dozens of lives: Are you ready for a wildfire?

On June 18, an enormous wildfire swept through an area of central Portugal. More than 60 people died, half of whom were trapped in their vehicles, according to news reports. Although most wildfires over the past 10 years have been caused by people, this wildfire was caused by nature. Portuguese authorities said that the fire was caused by lightning during dry thunderstorms.

With this tragic event, many people can’t help but ask “Would I know what to do in a wildfire?”

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, if you’re trapped in a vehicle during a wildfire, it’s important to stay calm. Park your vehicle away from vegetation and close all windows and vents. Cover yourself with a wool blanket or jacket and lie on your vehicle’s floor. Use your cellphone to call 911.

If you find yourself on foot and not near a home or building, Cal Fire recommends finding an area clear of vegetation, such as a ditch or depression on ground level. Lie face down, cover yourself and call 911.

If you’re at home during a wildfire, stay inside and fill your sinks and tubs with water. Close your doors and windows but don’t lock them. Stay back from outside walls and windows and listen for emergency updates.

Preparing for a wildfire begins long before the first wisp of smoke, however. If you have not already, make an emergency plan. Then set aside time to practice. This will help ensure that if a wildfire does happen, you and those you live with will be able to act quickly. You also want to have emergency supplies and keep them in an easily accessible place. Be sure you have a way of receiving emergency information from officials. This can be a radio, phone or other device. Cal Fire recommends evacuating as soon as authorities recommend it.

Remember, wildfires are uncontrolled and unplanned, so being able to act quickly is in your best interest.

Read our fact sheet for more information and check out this wildfire evacuation guide.

Photo courtesy FEMA/Jana Baldwin

Thursday, June 15, 2017

APHA’s Get Ready Store: Our easy gift guide

  Whether it’s for graduation, Father’s Day or a birthday, we’re always on the lookout for great gifts. If you’re scrambling to find the perfect gift, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, and then relax because the Get Ready Store is here to help.

 Whether you are shopping for mom, dad, grandma, mother-in-law or an “it’s complicated” loved one, the Get Ready Store has great gifts for every style. Not only will they enjoy our fine wares, you’ll be reminding the people you care about that their preparedness is important to you.
 Here are five gifts that will land you the spot of “favorite” (no matter what they say to the other people in your life):

• Pajamas in all sizes, from adults to babies.   There’s no doubt the people in your life have helped you develop into a fine human being, so help prove to them that those lost hours of sleep were all worth it. The pajamas come in white and black .

• A cute travel mug for warm beverages that will make them think of you often, especially if they have an appreciation for caffeine. It’s a hug in a mug that won’t break the bank, and it easily beats the last-minute mixed CD you’ve given them the past five years. And if they prefer cold beverages, we’ve got tumblers, too. 

• A reusable shopping or tote bag for their trips to the store.

• A useful wrist watch or wall clock for all the times they held your hand through breakups, coached you when you needed inspiration for finishing calculus and taught you the importance of preparedness.

• An iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone case for your tech-savvy parent or friend. Add an emergency app to their phone and you’ve made it the best gift ever.

 Find more great gifts on the Get Ready Store website and give those you care about your preparedness best. Happy shopping!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Above-normal hurricane season on its way

Get ready to batten down the hatches! The Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, is expected to be above-normal. That means residents along the East and Gulf coasts could see a lot of storms coming their way.

According to forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center there’s a high likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms, which have winds of 39 mph or higher. As many as nine of those could become hurricanes, and up to four could become major hurricanes.

An average season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, according to NOAA. So this year’s prediction is definitely higher. The 2016 season was also above normal, with seven hurricanes, four of which were major. Residents of North Carolina and other East Coast states will remember Hurricane Matthew in September, which caused 34 deaths and $10 billion in damage in the U.S. alone.

"Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives," said Robert Fenton Jr., acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally, listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.”

With months of possible hurricane threats ahead — the Atlantic season runs through Nov. 30 — you’ll also want to have lots of supplies stored. Make sure your preparedness kit includes a three- to five-day supply of water and non-perishable food, with one gallon of water stored for each person per day. Set aside enough food and water for pets, too.

Your supply kit should also include a first-aid kit, manual can opener, flashlight, batteries, a battery-operated radio, clothing and bedding, copies of important documents, hygiene supplies and hand sanitizer. And don’t forget a battery-operated or solar-powered charger for your cellphone.

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

Photo: A downed palm tree in Brownsville, Texas, shows the strength of Hurricane Dolly in July 2008. Photo courtesy FEMA/Jacinta Quesad

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How ready are you? Get Ready survey shows many falling short on preparedness

Many people are not taking the necessary steps to ensure they are ready to safely make it through disasters, according to a Get Ready survey.

Conducted this spring among APHA members and the general public, the informal survey found that 85 percent of respondents don’t know their community’s evacuation plans, and almost 58 percent don’t have evacuation plans for their home.
safety first
The survey assessed preparedness by asking respondents whether they had a communication or evacuation plan; food, water or supplies set aside; or plans set in place in households, workplaces and schools. The survey was a follow-up to a similar 2006 Get Ready survey, which also found many people were not following preparedness recommendations.

The 2017 Get Ready survey found that less than 37 percent of respondents said they know about government communication and emergency plans in their area. About 41 percent of respondents don’t know whether their friends or neighbors have special needs and might require help during disasters.

People know they can do better. About 63 percent of people said  they’re aware they should take more steps toward being prepared, in fact.

The good news is that the Get Ready campaign is here to help. Our fact sheets, infographics and blog can help you improve your readiness.

They can also help give you the knowledge to be able to protect others in an emergency, an issue that concerns over half — almost 55 percent — of survey respondents.

Congratulations to Amelia Brandt and James Swinehart, who were the winners of the Get Ready survey giveaway! Amelia and James will each receive a preparedness kit.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guest post: Nom nom nom nuptials: 7 food safety questions to ask your wedding caterer

Today’s guest blog post is by food safety education staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, who share tips on making sure your wedding creates lasting fond memories, not a food illness outbreak.

WEDDING FLOWERSCatering is one of the largest expenses in a wedding budget. Couples can often find themselves struggling to satisfy their visions of a dream wedding and finicky guests. Since no one wants their guest to become ill, it’s essential to keep food safety in mind when choosing a caterer.

The key is to follow good food safety guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. In preparation for any big meal, it’s a good idea to review FSIS’ “Cooking for Groups” publication. The pamphlet, also available in Spanish, features guidelines for preparing large quantities of food. Other resources at Foodsafety.gov are available 24/7.

Choosing a caterer doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are seven food safety questions to ask your caterer:

1. Are the staff members certified food handlers? If they're certified, this means the staff is properly trained on safe food handling.

2. How do you transport food to the venue? You want to ensure cold foods stay cold and pre-prepared hot foods stay hot. If caterers transport unsealed food containers in the same compartment, spillage and cross-contamination may occur.

3. When and where is the food prepared?
If the food is prepared off-site, ensure the caterers safely transport the food. If the food is prepared on-site, ensure the caterers have the appropriate tools they need to prepare and serve the food. Budget conscious couples may choose a venue without a fully stocked kitchen. When this happens, communicating this information to the caterer will ensure that they prepare by bringing the necessary cookware and supplies.

4. How long after food — especially meat, poultry and eggs — is cooked is it brought out to guests? Perishable foods should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

5. How long does the buffet remain open and how will the caterer avoid the food entering the “danger zone?” Ask the caterer to provide chafing dishes or warming trays to keep hot foods hot, and ice or another cold source to keep cold foods cold. Otherwise, food may enter the danger zone, the temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees where bacteria multiply rapidly. Never leave perishable foods in the danger zone for more than two hours, or one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees. After two hours, food that has been sitting out should be replaced with fresh food.

6. Are there any potential allergens used in the preparation of the food? You should certainly ask your caterer if there are any allergens in the dishes, including peanuts, soy and wheat. If there are, guests should be notified.

7. Do you use a food thermometer to check that food is properly cooked?
The answer must be yes! No one — not even a caterer — can tell if meat is properly cooked by its color. They must use a meat thermometer.

Following these tips can help you and your guests enjoy a happy, healthy wedding instead of a trip to the doctor. For more healthy nuptial tips, check out APHA’s public health wedding board on Pinterest.




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fight hunger and support preparedness this Saturday via national food drive

When your postal carrier drops by this Saturday, she or he will be ready to pick up more than just mail. Saturday, May 13, is the national Stamp Out Hunger food drive, during which postal carriers pick up food donations that are set out next to U.S. mailboxes.

Held annually since 1992, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive collected more than 80 million pounds of food last year. The event is organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, with support from the U.S. Postal Service, United Way Worldwide, AARP Foundation and other sponsors.

To take part, just leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods next to your mailbox before your mail comes on Saturday. Organizers say the most-requested items are cereal, pasta, spaghetti sauce, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, juice, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and canned proteins such as tuna, chicken and turkey. Healthy items such as beans, oatmeal and canola oil are also welcome. Food should be in non-breakable containers, such as boxes and cans, and should not be expired.

Statistics show that your donation will matter: In 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food-insecure households — meaning that they didn’t have enough food — including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children. 

“Letter carriers see many of these folks along our routes each day,” Fredric Rolando, National Association of Letter Carriers president. “Our food drive can make a positive difference in the lives of those who have been dealt difficult hands.”

Making a donation to Stamp Out Hunger can do more than fill empty bellies in your community. Food banks play an important role in community preparedness, because they are often where people turn to for assistance after a disaster or emergency. 

For more on the food drive, read the official FAQs. If you’re not sure whether your postal carrier will be taking part in the food drive Saturday, contact your local post office.

Thanks for helping your community be less hungry and more prepared!


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Be a better bystander: Know how to help in an emergency

Trauma — a disabling or life-threatening injury — is a common effect of natural disasters.
Bystanders who provide basic emergency care during disasters can help save lives. But they need to know how.

Isaac Lasko, a volunteer for Tufts University’s Emergency Medical Services and a biomedical engineering student with a pre-med focus, talked to APHA’s Get Ready campaign about actions people can take to help injured people in the time before professional help arrives.

“For natural disasters, what all of the safety really comes down to is prevention,” Lasko said.

Trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 46. About 20 percent of U.S. trauma deaths in 2014 could have been prevented if there had been better care for victims when they were injured.

That’s where people like you come in. The primary way bystanders can make a difference is by assessing the situation and giving care that prevents things from getting worse, Lasko said. He recommends starting by checking a victim’s ABCs — airway, breathing and circulation.

“A two-hour class in basic CPR can give somebody the skills to really keep the A, B and C alive to the best of the ability of a bystander,” said Lasko.

Controlling bleeding is another crucial way you can help. For example, using towels or cloths to apply pressure to a wound can help stop bleeding after a serious injury, said Lasko. If bleeding doesn’t stop, tourniquets can also be used as a last resort to tie off a wound.

Often the best way to contribute to an emergency situation is to stay calm and reduce stress, Lasko said.

“Calmness, or the lack thereof, is something that people pick up from each other, so as a group you make the best decisions and you keep people feeling the safest,” he said.

Knowing the disaster risks in your community is also helpful. For example, in Massachusetts, where Tufts University is located, EMTs are often concerned with hypothermia, Lasko said. During extreme cold emergencies, people don’t have the same ability to regulate body temperature.

The American Red Cross offers classes that can teach you how to help out in an emergency. Another option is to volunteer with your local Community Emergency Response Team program, which can help you gain basic disaster response skills.

Learning the basics can help you be a better bystander.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Take a second and “ash” yourself: Are you prepared for wildfires?

Life isn’t always a box of chocolates. Instead, it’s often like a jar of jalapeños, and what you do today might burn you tomorrow, especially when it’s wildfire season.

Nine of the 10 years with the most destructive — meaning total land burned — wildfires have occurred since 2000. A record high was set in 2015, when more than 10 million acres burned. And the length of the typical fire season has tripled because of human-caused wildfires, which made up 84 percent of wildfires from 1992 to 2012.

FEMA/Jana Baldwin
The U.S. Fire Administration is doing something about it and so can you. In the words of Smokey Bear, “only you can prevent forest fires” and here are six quick, practical ways to do that:

The first step is to prepare:
• Make an emergency plan. Learn your evacuation routes and create a communication plan.
• Make an emergency kit and keep it in an easily accessible place. Remember your pets!
• Make sure to have a way to receive emergency information from officials through radios, phones and other devices.

It’s also important to protect:
• Keep your home — roof, rain gutters — and surrounding area clean and your yard green. Assure that your house number is visible.
• Make a safety zone of up to 100 feet around your house that is free from anything easily flammable, including dry leaves, branches and propane tanks.
• Purchase insurance and furniture with fire safety in mind.

For more tips on how to reduce your wildfire risk, check out our Get Ready fact sheet and share with your friends, family and community.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Science and preparedness go hand-in-hand: Say yes to the March for Science

Imagine this: you’re sitting in a tree house eating ants on a log and playing Two Truths and a Lie. You say, “Tsunamis are fake, the Get Ready Blog is fantastic and science is fascinating.”

If this aligns with your truth — you know tsunamis are real and love our Get Ready campaign, science, tree houses and more — the March for Science is for you and you are for the march!

This Earth Day, April 22, scientists and supporters are marching to celebrate science, with over 170 organizations and counting. The march distinguishes science as not just lab coats, goggles and Bill Nye the Science Guy, but as an explanation of the world around us.

Science and preparedness go hand-in-hand. Science provides the facts on climate change, including increasing heat waves, tropical storms, floods, fires and more. Because of science, we know that it’s more important than ever to be prepared for disasters. And as our APHA T-shirt says, “science is evidence, not opinion.”

March with APHA in Washington, D.C. or join one of the hundreds of local events. If you can’t attend in person, watch a livestream of the D.C. event on the March for Science website and chime in on social media with the #marchforscience hashtag.

But wait, preparedness first! Before you run out the door full of excitement and line up in the nation’s capital or in your hometown, make sure you’re prepared for crowds. And print out some of our great pro-science signs to show your love for the cause.

Happy marching!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Add to your cart: Announcing our Get Ready Store

Have you been patiently awaiting the arrival of an online store with a large range of Get Ready items? Well, the wait is over. A fabulous selection of preparedness-themed merchandise is now available on  our Get Ready Store

What can you expect from our store? Lots! Adult and children’s clothingaccessoriespet geardrink waredécor and gifts — complete with Get Ready’s famous blend of preparedness humor and education.

Get Ready items make great gifts. Pick up a shirt for your dog, tote for your mom and mugs for the team at the office. A Get Ready lunch bag would be a great gift for that public health grad in your life.

Our Get Ready designs are both attractive and informative. They’ll remind you to be prepared, wherever you are. Worried about disease outbreaks? “Keep calm and take a shot,” as one of our designs says. (Meaning a vaccine, of course!)

Purchases from the store help support the Get Ready campaign’s goal of helping Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for disasters. Plus, they’ll make you look super stylish.

If you want more great public health-themed items, check out the APHA Merchandise Store.

Start shopping our fun new styles on the Get Ready Store now!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

It’s NPHW! Get ready to join the party

Looking for a reason to celebrate? Guess what? It’s National Public Health Week!

APHA is using April 3-9 to celebrate the importance of public health for both individuals and communities. Where we live, work and play has a major role in shaping health. By addressing the social and environmental factors of health we’ll be the “Healthiest Nation 2030.”

NPHW is a great time to highlight preparedness, as public health and emergency planning go hand in hand. Ensuring emergency health services are in place, evacuation routes are known and households are stocked with emergency supplies are great ways to build healthier communities.

If you want to make sure your community is taking part, here’s how to join the party and show your support for a good cause:

  • Check out the NPHW website for many great resources to help you get involved. Look through the toolkit, review the facts for the week and share images on social media.
  • Stay tuned to the NPHW calendar for information and updates on this year’s NPHW activities. These activities are a great way to have fun and get involved in NPHW. Don’t miss out!
  • Follow @NPHW on Twitter. On Wednesday, April 5, at 2 p.m. Eastern time, APHA will be hosting an NPHW Twitter chat. Use the #NPHWchat hashtag and celebrate good times with your fellow tweeps! 
  • Pass out some of Get Ready’s many preparedness fact sheets at your community events. Or share copies at the office, home or school. After all, everyone can use preparedness tips. 
So, do what you need to do to get in the party mood. Pull out the leather jacket in the back of your closet that makes you feel like Danny Zuko, or if unicorn onesies are your thing, put it on ASAP, because this National Public Health Week is a time to celebrate.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Get Ready Mailbag: What’s the deal with bird flu?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to getready@apha.org.

I’ve been hearing a lot about bird flu on the news lately. What the heck is bird flu? Should I be worried?
Avian flu, also known as bird flu, is a virus that occurs naturally in wild aquatic birds, like ducks. It becomes a problem when it infects domestic birds, like chickens and turkeys, and makes them sick.
You’ve probably been hearing about it lately because there have been outbreaks in birds on three Tennessee farms. Another poultry farm in Alabama showed positive signs of bird flu as well. Poultry that’s been cooked to a proper temperature doesn’t pose a risk to consumers. But officials removed the birds from the food supply just in case. It’s better to be safe!

Can I catch it?
It’s possible, but doubtful. Like the flu virus that makes humans sick, bird flu can mutate. If that happens, it can infect humans and other vertebrates. Human infections happen when the virus gets into your body through your nose, mouth or eyes.
People at the highest risk are workers who farm domestic birds and interact with them frequently. There has been an outbreak of bird flu in China this year, mostly in people who spent time near live poultry. Humans infected with bird flu very rarely pass it on to other humans.

I love chicken, and eat it almost every day. Should I stop eating it?
If you cook your poultry thoroughly you should be fine. In fact, you should always cook meat as recommended to protect against bacteria and other infectious diseases. Raw poultry is associated with many infections, like salmonella. Remember to carefully wash all knives and cutting boards after use, and don’t let raw and cooked meat or juices mix together. Don’t forget to cook all eggs thoroughly, too.

I am traveling to China next month for work. Am I safe from the bird flu outbreak there?
If you avoid poultry markets and farms, you should be fine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to stay away from places where live birds are raised, kept or sold when traveling to China or anywhere else. Also, make sure that all poultry that you will be eating, including that delicious Peking duck, is properly cooked.

I keep backyard chickens. Should I be worried about them?
As much as possible, keep your flock away from wild birds. Put away food and water so you don’t attract species that could carry a virus. Wear gloves and wash your hands frequently after handling birds.

My daughter watches Big Bird on Sesame Street every morning. Can he get bird flu?
No, Big Bird is a puppet and therefore not susceptible to bird flu. His puppeteer Caroll Spinney, however, should take care to avoid poultry farms, and thoroughly cook all poultry and eggs before he eats them.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Deadly bites: Protecting yourself against Lyme disease

What do frost, a mosquito and a tick have in common? Their bites can be deadly. But only a tick can spread a serious illness called Lyme disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are over 30,000 new cases of Lyme — pronounced like “lime” — disease every year. It is mainly caused by one type of bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. But last year, scientists discovered a new species of bacteria in deer ticks that also causes Lyme disease. This species, Borrelia mayonii, can be found in the upper Midwest U.S. (Note: The new bacteria are named after the founders of the Mayo clinic where some of the researchers work — not mayonnaise!)

So what does this new bacteria mean? Should I be worried?

Don’t freak out! New bacteria, same risk. This new bacteria poses similar dangers. You should still guard yourself and your family carefully against ticks, as Lyme disease is spread when an infected tick bites a human. It is mainly reported in the northeastern U.S. and upper Midwest.

Lyme disease caused by both B. burgdorferi and B. mayonii can cause fever, headache, rash and neck pain. But while B. burgdorferi can cause a bull’s- eye-like rash, B. mayonii has a diffuse rash. B. mayonii is also associated with nausea and vomiting.

Either way, you can help guard yourself against tick bites by wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying on trails when hiking. Spray yourself with an insect repellant that has DEET if you are going outside. As Harry Potter’s Mad-Eye Moody would say, “Constant vigilance.”

Check yourself for ticks and symptoms of Lyme disease before you wreck yourself! Be thorough: Examine your feet, ankles, armpits, groin and neck carefully. These are the places that ticks love the most. And remember to check your pets, too.
CDC tick removal tips.

Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics, but it gets harder to heal the longer you wait for treatment. If you see that you have been bitten by a tick, carefully remove it with tweezers. Ask your doctor about being tested for bite-related diseases.

For more tips on avoiding ticks and Lyme disease, check out our Get Ready fact sheet

Thursday, March 16, 2017

‘Baby got packed’: Prepare for a safe spring break to the beat of Sir Mix-A-Lot

Spring break is often a time filled with sunshine, friends and activities that might just drop your parent’s jaw to the ground. And it’s a perfect reminder to refresh your emergency preparedness knowledge.

Whether you’re way past the spring break revelry or right in the thick of it, make sure you know how to have a safe vacay. Inspired by the lyrics of the very talented Sir Mix-A-Lot here are five questions to ask yourself before your trip:

1. Do I know the hazards where I’m going and how to handle them?
“I like good plans and I cannot lie…” Do some research on the area you’re traveling to. For example, are hurricanes, tsunamis and heat waves a possibility? If so, do you know how to handle them? Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department for travel safety tips for your destination before you head out.

2. Do I have all the vaccinations I need to be protected?
“‘Cause you ain't that average groupie,” don’t follow the norm if the norm isn’t getting vaccines. Vaccinations can protect you from a range of infectious diseases. And trust us, you don’t want to bring any of these home as a souvenir. CDC recommends talking to your doctor about vaccines a few weeks before you head out.

3. Have I packed the right things?
“Baby got…packed.” Make sure you have the right clothing and have what you need to protect yourself from hazards and dangerous weather. Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen!

4. Are my important documents safe?
If you’re “hooked and you can’t stop staring” at the beautiful scenery once you arrive, make sure you already have your passport and other critical documents safe. You never know when you may need to bolt because of hazardous weather.

5. Do I know evacuation routes and emergency numbers?
Make sure you aren’t left dialing 1-900-MIXALOT in the case of an emergency. Know the local equivalent to 911, as well as where fire exits, stairwells and other evacuation essentials are located where you are staying.

Want even more? Check out our Get Ready materials and read  recommendations on spring break safety from CDC.

Have a happy, safe spring break and “kick them nasty thoughts!”

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Daylight saving begins March 12: Don’t forget to set your clocks and check your stocks

Daylight saving time springs forward this Sunday at 2 a.m., which means we lose an hour of sleep. The good news — besides that extra sunlight at the end of the day — is that you can use the clock change as a reminder to check your preparedness stockpile.

What is this campaign about? Click here to learn more.
Thanks to Get Ready’s Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign, you’ll never be missing important emergency items when a disaster happens. Here are eight things to double-check along with your alarm clock:

1.  Did you raid the emergency stocks for canned fruit after noticing you were out and craving some peach cobbler? You should have enough shelf-stable food stored to last three days. Remember to purchase canned fruit packed in juice, not syrup. Also, be sure to have a manual can opener on hand!

2.  Do you have three gallons of water per person per day stored? Or did your daughter decide to fill up the fish tank? In an emergency, water can stop running from the tap or be unsafe to drink. Make sure you have enough for everyone, plus some left over to brush your teeth.
 
3.  Did the resident chipmunks in your garage take advantage of your emergency granola bars? Be sure to check all stocks for damage by insects and other pests.

3.  Has your son borrowed the emergency flashlight to tell scary stories by the campfire on his Boy Scouts overnighter? In an emergency, you may lose power. Check to make sure you have a working flashlight. Battery-powered, hand-cranked or solar-powered all work fine. Candles can cause fires, so they’re not the safe choice for emergencies.

4.  Do you really want to eat canned tomatoes that you bought preparing for Y2K? (Here’s a hint: you do not.) Check the expiration dates on all of your emergency food and water stocks. Try to purchase foods that don’t require refrigeration and are low in salt. (AKA, no salted caramel ice cream. Sorry, Joe.)

Like this meme? Check out more of our social media graphics.

5.  Are there enough batteries for your emergency flashlights and radio? Or were they stolen to power “batteries-not-included” toys on Christmas morning? Make sure to check the expiration date on your batteries, and confirm they haven’t been exposed to snow or rain. You’ll want to have enough ready for your emergency radio, which is a great way to get weather and disaster alerts.

6.  Do you have emergency medication and copies of important documents for all family members? Or have your stocks not been updated since Suzy was born? It’s important to have paperwork and medical supplies for all family members in case disaster strikes. Depending on your needs, contact lens solution or diapers may be necessary as well.

7.  Did you forget about Fido? Pets are loved ones, too! Include food, medication and other supplies for your animals in any emergency kit. 

After checking for all of these items, you can rest easy — though an hour less! — knowing your family is prepared for an emergency.

P.S. People living in Arizona and Hawaii: Just because you don’t observe daylight saving doesn’t mean you don’t experience emergencies. Remember to check your stockpiles, too!


Thursday, March 02, 2017

Get Ready profile: Speaking up for women’s voices and making a difference in preparedness

March is Women’s History Month, an annual observance that celebrates the vital role of women in American history. To mark the month, APHA’s Get Ready Blog spoke to Eva Jarawan, PhD, MBA, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of International Health at Georgetown University Medical Center, about her work in global emergency preparedness. 

In the 1800s education and legislation were considered “too weighty for the sensitive fibers of the female mind.” Luckily, such laughable ideas have long been discarded. Women are leading universities, organizations and nations — and the fibers of their minds are doing just dandy, thank you very much.

Women have made major strides in the field of health, including emergency preparedness, response and recovery. Among those is Eva Jarawan, a Georgetown University professor who has worked in public health for over 30 years, striving to protect the health of people around the world during emergencies.

Her career has included work at the World Bank, where she served people on a global scale. She also worked in countries such as Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo on projects that tackled HIV/AIDS and health effects that linger after conflicts have ended.

Jarawan’s success in the field didn’t come about without discrimination based on her gender, she noted. Early in her career, her salaries were often below those of her male counterparts, even below those of the students graduating from her class. Back then, women were sometimes not standing up for themselves for fear of losing their jobs or were embarrassed, especially in developing countries, she said. As it took time for her to gain self-confidence, she identified with them. But she has since found her voice.

 “Women have to speak up,” Jarawan said.

As a professor, Jarawan continues to improve health through her teaching and research and stays abreast of emergency preparedness needs around the world.

Jarawan told the Get Ready campaign that she admired protections put in place for emergencies in the U.S. But she expressed concern that too many people lag at getting ready despite knowing that they should be prepared for disasters. Looking to past disasters can motivate people to get ready for what may happen next, she pointed out.

“People try to draw lessons from them and improve, and that’s important,” Jarawan said.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Flu is here, and it’s widespread. Get vaccinated.

Want more public health memes?
It’s official: the flu is more widespread than Bieber fever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is widespread throughout most of the U.S. and case counts have been increasing. Serious influenza activity was reported in 46 states and Puerto Rico as of Feb. 11, says CDC’s weekly FluView report.

From October to mid-February, more than 8,222 people had been hospitalized in the U.S. because of the flu. Tragically, at least 29 children have died from flu this season. The flu can cause serious illness in children under 5 and adults over age 65, as well as pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions. But, just like Bieber’s sweet jams, everyone is susceptible.

Annual vaccinations are the best way to prevent flu and its complications. Yearly flu shots are recommended for everyone ages 6 months or older, so if you’re not a baby — baby,baby, baby, ohhhhh — then ask your doctor or local pharmacist about getting a flu vaccine.

For this flu season, CDC recommends that your vaccine come in the form of the flu shot. The nasal spray flu vaccine shouldn’t be used this year, because it wasn’t shown to be effective.

It might be too late now to say sorry, but it’s not too late to get your flu shot and protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Share the preparedness love with our new Get Ready Valentine’s Day e-cards

APHA’s Get Ready campaign has 13 new preparedness-themed Valentine’s Day e-cards for you to share with the people you love! From cute and fuzzy animals to fun memes, there’s a card for everyone in our new lineup.

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness about emergency preparedness. Whether it’s for a buddy or your significant other, they will appreciate knowing you care about their health and happiness because that, THAT is real love.

Plus you get brownie points for something that takes just a few minutes — a win, win.





















You can email, tweet or post them to Facebook — or even print them out. Just visit our Valentine’s Day e-card page, pick your favorites and spread some awareness and love!  

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Take on winter safety this year with our new infographic

Winter can be tough. You’re coping with holiday stress, hoarding lip balm and navigating every public transportation ride like it’s an obstacle course for your immune system.

Sadly, these colder months also come with other serious side effects. Every year, dozens of Americans die and thousands are injured because of winter weather. Winter storms can also be costly: In 2015, winter storms cost U.S. property owners $530 million in damage. 

While weather conditions can’t be controlled, the toll it takes on you and your community can. That’s where our new Get Ready infographic comes in. Live now on our website, the graphic offers key tips for staying safe before, during and after a winter storm.

For example, did you know it’s important to winterize your car before a storm occurs? About 70 percent of winter storm deaths are car-related. Reduce your risk and check your car’s battery, brakes, anti-freeze, gas tank and heater before heading out.

If you own a home, it’s also a good idea to insulate your home’s water lines, check heating systems and install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors.

And don’t forget to stock up on emergency supplies both before and after the storm. Fill your emergency supply kit with water, food, first-aid items, flashlights, batteries, medications and other necessities.

Check out our winter storms infographic now and share it with someone you care about.

And while you’re on our site, check out our other Get Ready infographics. They’re perfect for sharing on your website, via social media and at community events.