Friday, August 29, 2008

Celebrate Get Ready Day and spread the preparedness message

How prepared are you and your community for an emergency or disaster? Not very, if you are like most Americans.

That's why Tuesday, Sept. 16, is Get Ready Day. Sponsored by APHA, Get Ready Day is raising awareness about community preparedness.

No matter where you live, there is always a possibility of a public health emergency, from earthquakes and hurricanes to infectious disease or terrorism. Unfortunately, Americans just aren't prepared for a public health crisis, according to a 2007 poll from APHA.

A whopping 87 percent of Americans would not be prepared if a public health crisis such as an infectious disease outbreak or disaster struck their communities the next day, the poll found. While disasters such as Hurricane Katrina have made us all more aware of what could go wrong, only 14 percent of people said they had an adequate emergency supply of water, food and medication.

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 Get Ready message to your community during Get Ready Day. Need ideas? Here's a few:

* Sponsor a preparedness talk at your local senior center or hold a community meeting. Invite someone from your local health department or 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 shopping lists of what people should have to be prepared.

You'll find plenty of helpful free preparedness planning materials on the Get Ready fact sheet page or via the Red Cross. September is also National Preparedness Month, so check out this great information from Uncle Sam as well.

Thanks to your help and Get Ready events held around the country, we'll all be a bit more prepared for the worst!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Get Ready Helping Handouts now available in Spanish

¿Hablas Español? If so, you may find a new set of materials from APHA's Get Ready campaign of interest.

In August, the Get Ready campaign debuted Spanish-language versions of its popular Helping Handouts series. The free handouts address preparedness issues such as handwashing, vaccinations, food safety, healthy travel and pandemic flu.

The colorful handouts -- which are also available in English -- are aimed at educating the public and are presented in a fun, easy-to-read style. They can be used at health fairs, passed out on campus, posted at work or handed out at health clinics -- it's up to you!

The new Spanish-language materials are just the latest offerings from APHA's Get Ready campaign, which works to help Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious diseases and other health emergencies.

Other free Get Ready materials include a stockpiling checklist, fact sheets on infectious disease, preparedness tips and games for kids. Many of the resources can be customized with your organization's logo, so be sure and check them out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Web site encourages taking diversity into account when creating emergency plans

In an emergency, how ready are you to help the diverse groups that live in your community? To be in the know, check out the National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities. It's the first Web site devoted to helping ensure that racially and ethnically diverse populations are prepared for a public health emergency.

The site is focused on collaboration and communication. It's full of great links to important policies, publications, training materials, translated documents and more - everything to help prepare diverse communities for emergencies.

"There's not a one-size-fits-all plan," says Jonathan Purtle, a health policy analyst with the Drexel University School of Public Health's Center for Health Equality, which developed the site with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health. In an emergency, national organizations must rely on local expertise when planning a relief effort - which is where residents and community leaders come in.

Web visitors can access articles on emergency situations such as bioterrorism, natural disasters and disease outbreaks. Articles are posted in a range of languages - from Albanian to Laotian to Yupik.
To stay informed, sign up for the Diversity Preparedness E-Newsletter, which will be issued monthly.

The National Resource Center is a needed site and a great resource, Purtle told APHA's Get Ready campaign, but it's too early to know the benefits. The main goal is to ensure that everyone in our communities is accounted for in our emergency preparedness plans, including those created in our local communities and hometowns. So it's up to all of us to use these resources and work with leaders to make sure we're all prepared.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Get Ready Mailbag: Healthy commuting

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions from our readers. Have a question you want answered? Send us an e-mail!

Q. With gas prices at record highs, I'm thinking about taking public transportation to work. But I'm concerned about all the germs. What can I do to keep myself healthy?

A. First of all, good for you for considering public transportation. Not only will you save money and perhaps time on your commute, you'll also be getting some physical exercise while contributing to the fight against global warming. So don't let your fear of germs stop you. A few simple precautions will go a long way to help keep you healthy.

The most basic precaution is to do what you can to avoid coming into contact with germs. When possible (remember, your safety is most important!), avoid touching the handrails, poles, seats and other items that a lot of people touch on buses or trains. You can also choose to wear gloves. If you do touch something, don't put your hands in your pockets or touch your eyes, mouth or nose until they’ve been washed. You can also try to stagger your commute times so there are fewer people traveling at the same time. This might allow you to have enough room to stand out of range from someone coughing or sneezing on you.

However, since it's almost impossible not to come into contact with any germs, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as soon as you arrive at your destination. You should also carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when you can’t get to a restroom to wash up.

Follow these simple suggestions and you should be able to enjoy the benefits of public transportation without worrying about getting sick!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Vaccinations: They're not just for kids

Now that you are a grown up, you may think that tiny tots are the only ones that have to go to the doctor’s office and get regular vaccinations. Think again. Although kids need to get quite a few shots, people of all ages need to keep up on immunizations to protect themselves from threats to their health.

Today, Aug. 1, marks the beginning of National Immunization Awareness Month, during which health clinics and public health workers will be urging everyone in the nation to make sure their shots are up to date.

With students heading back to school soon, now is the perfect time to be thinking about vaccinations. While most parents are aware that infants and children need immunizations, don’t forget that college students need them as well, and some schools may prevent them from heading to class unless they are up to date.

Flu season is just around the corner, and pneumonia is a threat as well, so make sure you and your older family members are vaccinated. While you are meeting with your doctor, ask about other shots you may need, such as shingles vaccine for older adults. Gardeners may also want to make sure their tetanus shots are up to date, as it naturally occurs in soil, and is not just on rusty nails.

Not sure which vaccines you and your family need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great schedule that will tell you exactly what to get when, no matter what stage of life you are in.

Remember: By not getting vaccinated, you not only risk making yourself sick, but also your colleagues, friends and family. So plan on taking some time to update your vaccinations soon.