Friday, October 28, 2011

Trick or treat: Remember to wash your hands

Trick-or-treating is a tradition for millions of Americans, but ghosts and goblins aren’t the only things you should prepare for. Have you ever thought about the number of people you come in contact with in just a few hours on Halloween?

Parents may be spooked about allowing their children to receive candy from strangers, but the dangers lurking from germs should be considered as well. Hand-washing is an important step to ensure a happy Halloween, especially now that flu season has arrived.

Children and adults should wash their hands both before and after trick-or-treating. Washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself and your family from scary germs, especially as winter and the holiday seasons approach. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips on when and how to wash your hands properly for the best results. You can also learn more about soaping-up by visiting the Get Ready campaign’s hand-washing Web page to read frequently asked questions on hand-washing or to download one of our many hand-washing fact sheets in English or Spanish. You can even pass them out to trick-or-treaters.

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind this Halloween:

• Carry and use hand sanitizer while trick-or-treating for added protection.
• Remember to cover your mouth when sneezing, preferably by sneezing into your elbow.
• Wash your hands before opening and eating your treats.

These simple steps can help you and your family enjoy a happy, healthy Halloween.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tips for using social media in times of emergency

Facebook. Twitter. Texting. Social media has increasingly become a part of everyday life for many. But these tools can also be important during emergencies, from natural disasters to emergencies at home.

During a crisis, you can reach a lot of contacts and emergency providers by tweeting or posting on Facebook. You can keep them updated about how you’re doing and what you need. This is especially important if you can’t get to a phone, or if your phone lines are down or overloaded, but wireless still works as can happen during a disaster. Or maybe you are by a computer but can’t physically get to the phone, as happened to one man with muscular dystrophy during a house fire. He asked a fellow online gamer to call 9-1-1 on his behalf.

The communication can also go both ways. Relief workers can use social media to provide real-time updates on their work and local conditions or to provide advice, like how to care for your pets during a crisis or whether you should shelter in place.

Here are a few other ways to consider using social media to get help in an emergency:

• You can get emergency updates such as text messages if you “like” FEMA or your local emergency management agency on Facebook.
• If you text FOLLOW FEMA, or your local agency, to Twitter at 40404, you can get text message updates from anyone you’re following without a Twitter account.

• You can use GoogleMaps to create and share an evacuation route and meeting place with family and loved ones.
By uploading photos or videos of the emergency, you can affect the response. As Macon Phillips, director of new media at the White House and volunteer during Hurricane Katrina, said during a meeting of the America Red Cross, “One person can take a photo. One person can post a message…and it changes all our understanding of a situation immediately.”

And, of course, you should subscribe to the Get Ready Blog, Twitter and podcasts for ongoing preparedness tips.

Friday, October 14, 2011

¿Esta usted preparado para enfrentar desastres?

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month today's blog entry is an article by María-Belén Moran a Public Affaires Specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is also a Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Trainer. To read the article in English, you can use an online translator

Imagínense que acaba de perder la electricidad en su vivienda, ya sea por un temblor, un tornado,la explosión de una fábrica, o una bomba. ¿Ahora que va a hacer? ¿Va a salir de su vivienda o quedarse en ella? ¿Tiene una linterna? ¿Velas? ¿Fósforos? ¿Una radio que funcione con baterías? ¿Tiene baterías? ¿Ud. o alguien en su familia toma medicamentos que necesitan refrigeración? ¿Si usa lentes, los tiene a la mano? ¿Tiene mascotas?

Toco madera, pero si un desastre ocurre sé que mi familia va a querer estar informada. En caso que la tecnología falle tenemos una radio a baterías en nuestro kit de emergencias. También tenemos linternas y baterías extras. Durante el verano hubieron lluvias muy fuertes en el estado de Georgia, donde vivimos, y pasamos muchas noches en el sótano. Tomamos agua, cenamos galletas con atún y mayonesa y verduras de lata. Lo que si nos faltó fue algo dulce de postre, así que desde entonces quiero poner chocolates en el kit, pero parece que la necesidad de chocolate es siempre una emergencia en casa. Otra cosa que debo añadir son juegos para distraernos así como una tarjeta para llamar al extranjero.

El tener un plan para emergencias nos ayuda en esas primeras horas en el que no sabemos muy bien que pasa, que pasará y por cuanto tiempo. Vivimos en una zona enla que pueden ocurrir tornados y sabemos que cuando escuchamos las sirenas tenemos que ir al sótano. Igual la incertidumbre no desaparece, pero como tenemos un plan, no hay órdenes conflictivas sobre que es lo que tenemos que hacer en ese momento.

Existen muchos recursos para ayudarlos a planear para las emergencias que puedan ocurrir en la región donde vive, como la de la Asociación Americana de Salud Pública (APHA) y su campaña de Get Ready. Es recommendable que también se familiarize con los planes de su ciudad. Acuérdese que los rescatistas van a enfocar sus esfuerzos en las zonas más afectadas y en los pobladores más perjudicados. Usted puede ayudarles a cumplir su heroica misión evitando que su familia se convierta en víctima.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Taking steps to protect your child’s health

Earlier this week, Child Health Day was marked around the nation. The celebration is a good reminder that we can all help kids live a lifetime of good health by promoting things like safety and disease prevention.

One way to help kids live a healthy life is through preparedness, including getting ready for infectious diseases such as the flu. Flu season is just around the corner, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children ages 6 months and older be vaccinated annually. The Get Ready campaign offers free fact sheets on why it’s important for your children and teens to receive their vaccinations.

Many drugstore and grocery stores now offer flu shots in their pharmacies, or you can use’s free online locator to find a flu clinic near you. Kids can also stay disease-free through regular and thorough hand-washing.

It’s also important to help kids be prepared for disasters and emergencies. Disasters can be scary for children, so it’s key to prepare them in advance for things that might happen. Check out the Get Ready campaign’s free child-level fact sheet for preparing kids for disasters or download our fact sheet aimed at parents.

Let’s help our kids get a safe and healthy start to life.