Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Get Ready for Thanksgiving: Ways to keep your loved ones safe this holiday

The holiday season is finally here! After so much time apart, many people are excited to reunite with their family and friends for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 24. This year, many families are back in the holiday spirit and can't wait to return to their favorite holiday traditions. 

As you and your family prepare for Thanksgiving, make sure health and safety are also in your plan. Get Ready has new social media shareables to help spread good health and good cheer this holiday season. Check them out here:

COVID-19 Safety

Like 2020, celebrating the holidays looks different with COVID-19 still around. But there are many safe ways to enjoy the holidays. One way to stay protected is to ensure that all eligible family members get their COVID-19 vaccinations before coming together on Thanksgiving. While the CDC has recently approved vaccination for anyone above the age of 5 years old, some of our friends and family members still may not be fully vaccinated in time for the holidays. The CDC says that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and those that aren't eligible like young children and high medical risk family members. 

Some of our family members are at higher risk for the COVID-19 virus, and it's important to think about their safety and protection. 

If you are feeling sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms, don't pass it along to others at the dinner table. Keep your friends and family healthy by staying home until you are symptom-free. Vaccinations and other safety practices like mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing and avoiding large crowds of people outside your friends and family will help reduce everyone's risk for COVID-19 during Thanksgiving. 

Before traveling, the CDC recommends that you check the current COVID-19 situation where you’re visiting. The CDC has a helpful tracker that shows how the virus may be spreading in communities. Share this tracker and other CDC travel recommendations with your family and friends to keep them informed before traveling this holiday season. 

Food safety

COVID-19 is not the only illness that can spread on Turkey Day. Food-borne illnesses are also common during the holidays. The USDA says that your turkey and stuffing is not safe to eat until it reaches 165° F. Using a food thermometer, check the internal temperature of your turkey in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost wing and the innermost thigh. If your turkey has not reached a safe temperature in all three places, it’s not ready yet. Simply give it more time to cook in the oven. Wait about 20 minutes for the juices to settle into the turkey before carving. Now your fully cooked and healthy turkey is ready to serve at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Check out the USDA’s helpful infographics to learn more about food safety during the holidays. 

You can prevent food-borne illnesses by having clean hands. Before, during, and after handling your turkey, wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Washing your hands helps fight germs and will keep you and your family healthy at Thanksgiving dinner. The CDC has more tips on how to keep your holiday turkey and stuffing safe and healthy for your guests to enjoy. 

Fire safety 

Emergencies like house fires and other disasters can still happen during the holidays. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says that Thanksgiving is peak time for home cooking fires.  Fires are one of the quickest ways to cut Thanksgiving dinner short. Most cooking fires in the home involve the kitchen stove

Avoid cooking fires by staying close to your stovetop and setting a timer for your food. Whether you are frying in the kitchen or grilling outside, don’t leave your food or heat unattended and especially keep children away from cooking areas. Even if you are away for a short time, turn off the stove to save you and your family from a fire at home. The Red Cross has a list of ways to prevent fires on Thanksgiving that you can learn about before hosting this holiday. 

Thanksgiving should be spent spreading gratitude and love, instead of COVID-19, food-borne illnesses or cooking fires. Together we can have a safe and healthy holiday season!



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Double protection is worth a shot...or two!

Bring in the fall by getting ready for flu season! Flu season can begin as early as October and last until May. However, the flu virus tends to spread the most between December and February. This year, flu season arrives while we’re still battling COVID-19. To protect yourself against both viruses, getting your flu and COVID-19 vaccinations will be super important this season. 

While 2020-2021 brought low seasonal flu activity, CDC expects that flu cases will spike back up earlier than usual this season. Last season, flu activity was down because of COVID-19 safety measures. Wearing masks and staying six feet apart in public places helped people stay protected against the flu. 

This flu season will not look like any other year. Schools, offices, and other public places are reopening with fewer social distancing rules. People are traveling again and returning to activities. They may be near larger crowds or be more reluctant to wear a mask. Now is the best time to learn about ways to protect yourself from both the flu and COVID-19. For more information on preventing the flu, check out Get Ready’s fact sheets. 

Get Ready is preparing communities for flu and COVID-19 season in its newest infographic about both vaccines. Share this infographic with your friends and family to get everyone on board with double protection this year! 

The vaccines are super safe. Each protects you from a different virus. You can even get them at the same time. COVID-19 vaccines are free to everyone in the U.S. You can get a flu shot for little to no cost. Vaccines are protections that work together with hand-washing and mask wearing. Every shot is worth a lot. It helps your family, friends and community stay healthy together!

Here are four things to keep in mind when getting both flu and COVID-19 vaccines: 

1. Safety

 
The CDC says both vaccinations are safe and effective. You can even get both shots in the same visit. The  flu and COVID-19 are serious infections that can spread quickly from person to person. Both viruses spread from droplets that we all exhale. A simple cough or sneeze from one person with the flu or COVID-19 can make other people sick. Getting both vaccines will help your body fight off illness and reduce the spread of both viruses. 

2. Cost and Access


In the United States, everyone ages 12 years and older can get their COVID-19 vaccination for free.  Use this vaccine locator tool to find the closest vaccine site to you. 

Anyone over 6 months old can get a flu shot. You can get a flu shot for free or low cost, especially if you have health insurance. Many local health departments, grocery stores, schools and workplaces offer them for free, too. 
Schedule both flu and COVID-19 shots as soon as you're available. The CDC recommends everyone get their flu shots before the end of October.

3. Staying Protected

Vaccinations are extra layers of protection. But they can’t prevent every case of COVID or flu. They should be paired with other health and safety measures. Wash your hands often and wear your mask when around others. Get Ready has helpful guides on hand-washing.

4. Community Impact 


Getting both vaccinations helps protect you and others around you. Sometimes people with health conditions have immune systems that are not strong enough to fight against viruses on their own. When more people get their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, their communities can be healthier.  

Every shot is worth a lot this fall and winter!  


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Plan, protect and pack up for Get Ready Day

Get Ready Day is almost here! It’s a great time for you to make sure you’re prepared for an emergency. Every year, Get Ready Day is held on the third Tuesday in September to celebrate National Preparedness Month to help our families and local communities stay safe and healthy. With hurricane season and COVID-19 still going strong, this year's Get Ready Day on Sept. 21 will be packed with the key tools that you, your family and friends need to get through both disasters! 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns communities to prepare for an above-average hurricane season in 2021. While the Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1, it has no signs of slowing down until after Nov. 30. Get Ready has fact sheets in English and Spanish to help you prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters. Use the National Hurricane Center’s interactive map to track the hurricane risks for your area. 

The pandemic means your hurricane prep might look a little different this year. Get Ready has released a new infographic to highlight how to protect yourself and your family during the hurricane season. You can share this infographic so everyone knows how to start the 3 P’s on Get Ready Day:

3 P's to prepare for COVID-19 and hurricane season
Plan: You and your family should plan your safest evacuation route now. If you need to go to a shelter, choose one that isn't overcrowded to reduce the COVID-19 risks. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tips for protecting yourself and your community

Protect: Protect yourself and those around you by getting your COVID-19 vaccine (one or two shots, depending on which one you get) before the actual emergency. The vaccine is safe and reduces your risk of getting COVID-19. If you do catch the virus, you are less likely to be very sick. Getting sick during a hurricane is dangerous. Emergency workers and hospitals are harder to reach and busier during and after a disaster. It’s important to take this step for your health and safety. 

Pack: Your go-bag needs a few extra items this year. Grab them before the emergency! Make sure to prepare a stockpile of masks, hand sanitizer, bottled water and other medical supplies for hurricane season.

Now that you have your 3 P’s, celebrate emergency preparedness on Sept. 21! 


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Get Ready’s Summer 2021 Infographics

This summer’s heat wave has broken records in many parts of the country. The hot, dry weather can make droughts worse and increase risk of wildfires, especially in western states. Get Ready has created two new infographics to help you prepare for both droughts and wildfires. Make sure to follow @GetReady on Twitter for these infographics and more preparedness tips.


Droughts

This first infographic is called “6 Ways You Can Help Out in a Drought.” These are just some of the small ways to save water at home. For example, you can take showers in under five minutes. It’s also important to fix leaks in your plumbing. Fixing leaks can save up to 110 gallons of water a month. That’s more than 1,300 gallons every year!

Infographic on preparing for a drought. Tips include take shorter showers, fix leaks, wash only full loads of laundry, water grass in the morning, plant water-friendly plants, and listen for local alerts.
Drought infographic

Your garden and yard also use lots of water. Make sure you water your grass in the early morning or at night when it’s less hot out. Think about switching to plants that use less water and are native to your area

Most importantly, always follow state and local rules on water use in a drought. Check out the drought fact sheet for more info.


Wildfires

This second infographic is titled “Wildfire Safety.” It lets you know how you keep your family safe before and during a wildfire.

How to prepare for wildfires. Tips include check smoke detectors, get local fire alerts, listen for evacuation instructions, know your escape routes, make copies of important documents, have an emergency contact list, and have a go-bag ready.
Wildfire infographic

Make sure all members of your household know the emergency plan and escape routes. Prepare a go-bag with important supplies like medications and masks for the smoke. Also make copies of important documents to take with you if you must evacuate. 

If there’s a fire near you, listen to local officials about how to safely evacuate. Sign up for community fire alerts to stay in the loop if there’s an emergency. Check out our wildfire fact sheet for more detailed tips.

For general tips on getting through the summer heat, check out our heat wave fact sheet.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Guest post: College students: Think you’re immune from COVID-19? Think again

Avalon Aragon is a public health student at the George Washington University who is interning with APHA’s Get Ready campaign. Earlier this year, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She is sharing her experience with COVID-19 — how she felt, what she did and what she’s learned.  

How did I get COVID-19? To be honest, I’m not sure. I had a normal weekend and did the same things I usually carefully do with my social bubble. The members of my bubble — who agree to follow safety precautions and limit contact with other people — went on walks, did grocery shopping and otherwise safely spent time together. Then the week started. People in my bubble started to feel sick. We all got tested for COVID-19, and most of our group was positive, including me. 

Right away, I felt so many emotions. I was scared, sad, upset, worried and stressed. The local health department called me to do contact tracing. They helped me to talk with everyone I’d recently had contact with. It was hard to tell people I had COVID-19, but I knew it was for the best to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

For the next 10 days, I followed my doctor’s recommendations: I drank lots of fluids, ate balanced meals, got lots of sleep and stayed away from others. I also let my professors and bosses know my situation. Everyone was understanding. They told me to focus on my health and to not worry about work or due dates. I kept a log of my symptoms, which fortunately were mild. With the help of my friends, I was able to get necessities delivered to me so I did not have to leave my apartment. 

Overall, the experience was an emotional one. It was hard to be alone for 10 straight days. I did not have my parents to take care of me. I wasn’t able to see my friends and do things we always do, like our daily walks. I took time to rest and focused on getting better. I’m so grateful I didn’t have severe symptoms and was able to fully recover, as did my friends in my bubble.

Moving forward from COVID-19
I was very fortunate not to become severely ill from COVID-19. A lot of people my age think that they aren’t going to get sick from this, or that they won’t pass it to others. But that’s not true. 
Last summer, people under 30 made up more than 20% of COVID-19 cases, and they were very much giving it to other people around them, including their friends and families. When young adults get COVID-19, they end up hospitalized in intensive care about 20% of the time. Since the pandemic began in the U.S. last year, more than 2,000 people ages 18-29 in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. In light of my own experience, those facts are very sobering to me. It could have been much, much worse.

I know there are many people who haven’t fully recovered from COVID-19 like I did. The long-term effects some people have — including young people — are scary. Wearing a mask and following other health and safety guidelines are important to both end this pandemic and protect those at high risk for severe illness.

Even though I’ve recovered, I continue to follow guidelines to protect myself and others from COVID-19. I wash my hands, wear a mask and maintain physical distance. I’m looking forward to getting vaccinated! Now that COVID-19 vaccines are open to all, I highly recommend that everyone my age get theirs too.

This experience was not an enjoyable one, and I hope other college students continue to take care and remember it’s not just their lives they’re risking. 

Check out these tips for college students from CDC for more information on how to stay safe.