Friday, August 27, 2010

Celebrate Get Ready Day on Sept. 21 and spread the preparedness message

Help your community become more prepared for pandemic flu, disasters and other public health threats by taking part in this year’s Get Ready Day on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Held annually on the third Tuesday in September, Get Ready Day is timed to coincide with National Preparedness Month, which urges all Americans to prepare, plan and stay informed. Get Ready Day is part of APHA’s Get Ready campaign, which is helping Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all hazards they may face, including pandemic flu, infectious diseases, disasters and other public health threats.

So how can you get involved in Get Ready Day? Set up a booth on campus, pass out materials at a health department, sponsor a preparedness talk at a community center or work with a local grocery store to promote preparedness and stockpiling to shoppers. Our Get Ready Event Guide (PDF) has even more ideas, an event checklist and a sample news release. Also available online from APHA is the Get Ready Games Guide, with do-it-yourself preparedness games that can be used at a Get Ready Day event for kids. No time to hold an event? Add the Get Ready logo and link to your website or blog.

This year, the campaign launched the Get Ready Pledge. Pledge to help make your community better prepared and spread the word! Also new to Get Ready is the Get Ready Video, which tells the story of preparedness through a fun, animated story of an ant and a grasshopper. The video can be downloaded to share with friends and family.

You can help spread the word about your Get Ready Day event by posting your activity to our free online Get Ready Calendar of Events. We’d love to hear about how you celebrate Get Ready Day, so drop us a line or send us a photo of your activities. Thanks for helping spread the preparedness message!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Watch our new Get Ready Video!

Preparedness advocates who want to spread the word about the importance of being ready for disasters have a new tool at their disposal: A free video from APHA’s Get Ready campaign.

Unveiled today, the two-minute Get Ready Video emphasizes that preparedness pays off when an unexpected disaster occurs and provides tips to get ready. The lesson is couched in an entertaining tale of an ant that is always prepared and a grasshopper that is not, and how the grasshopper learns the lesson. Presented in a colorful, animated style, the video is aimed at viewers of all ages.

The video can be downloaded and shared for free. Supporters are encouraged to show the video at their workplace, in schools, at community events or other venues. The video is also suitable for airing at health departments, office lobbies or doctors’ waiting rooms.

Watch, share and download the Get Ready Video now.
With both Get Ready Day and National Preparedness Month just around the corner, now is the perfect time to educate your community about being ready for disasters.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

You are what you eat: How not to get sick during a food-borne disease outbreak

When it comes to the food you eat, there could be more than meets the eye. Did you know that foods — from lettuce to peanut butter to breakfast cereal — can contain things that make you sick? Bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter could be lurking in all types of foods and you wouldn’t even know it.

Hundreds of people learned that lesson first-hand recently, when they were sickened by salmonella-contaminated eggs. Almost 300 million eggs have been recalled, which unfortunately is not that uncommon. In fact, more than 1,000 food-borne disease outbreaks are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year, involving everything from beef and poultry to fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t aware of the latest outbreak or don’t know if your food is infected, you and your community could be at risk of a serious food-borne illness.

Luckily, there are ways to be prepared. The key is knowing when food-borne disease outbreaks are out there so you know what foods to avoid. The most common foods linked to food-borne illness include poultry, beef and leafy vegetables. The best way to stay informed is to stay up on recalls. The Food and Drug Administration recall Web page lists the latest info, which you can sign up to receive via e-mail. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed for recalls or follow FDA recalls on Twitter. This way, you’ll be the first to know when an outbreak occurs.

If you think you’ve consumed contaminated food, you should follow these guidelines:
• If serious symptoms occur, call your doctor.
• Identify the food product, report the time and date it was consumed and track when symptoms began.
• Inform your local health department if the food was served to a large group of people.

For more information, FDA has dished out some important food handling tips to protect you from food-borne illness. And be sure to check out these podcasts on food safety from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Photo credit: Photo by Julija Sapic, courtesy iStockphoto

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Don’t let disease cramp your summertime fun

Whether you’re camping, staying hydrated or going for a swim, water is a huge part of summer fun. However, the water that we swim in and drink can sometimes contain disease-causing bacteria or viruses (which can seriously cut into that summertime fun).

To keep yourself from getting sick from contaminated water, follow these tips from APHA’s Get Ready campaign:

• Before you go to the beach, check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s online Beach Advisory and Closing Online Notification system to see if there are any warnings of water contamination or closings at beaches near you. If possible, avoid swimming the day after a heavy rainstorm, when contamination is often highest. That way you can avoid taking a dip in run-off that’s spread into the water from streets or overflowing drains.

• Headed to the pool? Believe it or not, germs can spread even in chlorinated water. To prevent the spread of bacteria and lessen your chance of getting sick, practice healthy swimming behavior. That means no swallowing the pool water. Shower with soap before and after swimming, and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Also, please be kind to your fellow pool-goers: No swimming when you have diarrhea.

• If you’re traveling in an area where tap water is not chlorinated or sanitation is poor, be sure to have lots of bottled water on hand. Also, there are several methods for ensuring water is safe to drink, including boiling, disinfecting or filtering the water. Remember: If the tap water is not safe to drink in the area you are visiting, don’t use it to reconstitute juice or to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, avoid ice made from tap water, otherwise you may end up regretting it later.

Following these steps will help keep you and others healthy as you beat the heat with water this summer. Splash away!

Photo credit: Courtesy iStockphoto

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Friday, August 06, 2010

National Immunization Awareness Month: The value of vaccination

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which means it’s the perfect time to make sure you and your family are up to date on vaccinations. It’s also a great time to recognize the many benefits of immunization, which is one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century.

Before vaccines were available, people could have expected diseases such as polio to have lifelong negative impacts on their lives. Today, however, diseases that can be prevented through vaccines are at record lows (PDF). However, the bacteria and viruses that cause these diseases still exist. So if people decide to stop getting vaccinated, the diseases can spread.

That’s a lesson that California residents have learned lately with a recent outbreak of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, which has killed at least seven infants and caused more than 2,000 cases of illness this year. Health officials in the state are reminding residents that both children and adults who come into contact with those who are sick need to keep up on their pertussis vaccinations, which is a message that should resonate with everyone.

"The pertussis epidemic is a sobering and tragic reminder that diseases long-thought controlled can return with a vengeance," said Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.

With both school and the flu season just around the corner, August is a great time to remind family, friends and co-workers to catch up on vaccinations. To find out what vaccinations you and your family need, check out CDC’s immunization schedules for children and teens or for adults. Remember: Keeping a community healthy and safe from infectious disease involves everyone.

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