Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back to school? Tips for keeping your family healthy!

With kids — and adults! — heading back to school, now is a perfect time to start getting ready for flu season. Here are the top six things you can do to keep you and your family healthy this fall:

1. Get your flu shot as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a seasonal flu shot every year. This year, the flu shot covers two new strains of the flu, which means that last year’s shot won’t cover you for the types of flu that are predicted to be most common this fall. If you don’t know where to go to get your flu shot, check out HealthMap’s Vaccine Finder to find a location near you!

2. Make sure your children are up to date on their other shots. Your child’s school will provide you with a list of required vaccinations that is based on CDC immunization schedules for children and teens.

Childhood vaccinations are especially important this year because the U.S. is experiencing large outbreaks of diseases that can normally be prevented with vaccines. For example, 46 states have reported higher than average cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 2012. Pertussis is a serious disease that can be deadly, especially for young children.

3. Make sure you are also up to date on your shots. Did you know that adults sometimes need booster shots, too? For example, the Tdap vaccine is a common adult booster shot that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. It’s recommended that adults get one Tdap booster, especially if they will be around newborn babies or if it’s been more than 10 years since their last booster shot.

If you’re not sure if your immunizations are up to date, you should talk to your health care provider. CDC also has a vaccine quiz that can help you figure out what shots you might need to get.

4. Practice good hand hygiene — and teach your family to do the same. We have lots of great fact sheets about hand-washing for children and adults!

5. Stay home if you are sick. If you have children, make a plan for how you’d care for them if they have to stay home from school.

6. Sign up for Flu Near You. Do you know that APHA is partnering on a cool flu reporting tool that lets you detect and report symptoms of flu? All you have to do is sign up at, and once a week you’ll get an email that asks, “How are you feeling?” After you fill out a 10-second survey about your symptoms, you will see a map of your area that shows if people around you have flu-like illness. This is a great way to be a disease detective and learn about flu in your community.

What steps are you taking to keep you and your family healthy this year? Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Get Ready Day 2012 a success

Sept. 18 was the sixth annual observance of APHA’s Get Ready Day. Held during National Preparedness Month, Get Ready Day helps Americans raise awareness in their communities about emergency preparedness. Organizations and advocates around the country helped promote this year’s observance.

Here at APHA, the Get Ready team held two community outreach events in Washington, D.C.: a grocery store event and a blood drive with the American Red Cross.

For our first event, we worked with a local grocery store to plan an event where we could talk to shoppers about building an emergency stockpile and answer questions about emergency preparedness. We set up a booth at the front of the store and talked to shoppers about stocking up on water and canned goods, preparing for bad weather and talking to children about emergencies. Our team spoke with hundreds of shoppers, handed out more than 200 copies of our free fact sheets, and gave away other goodies, like a T-shirt and an emergency preparedness backpack from the American Red Cross. By all accounts, it was a success.

APHA staff share preparedness tips with Safeway shoppers

The Get Ready team also organized a blood drive with the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross holds blood drives year-round, but keeping a good supply of blood becomes really important when a natural disaster strikes. The blood drive was a great way for APHA staff and community members to help others and make a personal contribution.

APHA's Executive Director is all smiles after donating blood
Best of all, both events were relatively easy to set up, and fun to participate in. If you’re already thinking about what you can do for next year’s Get Ready Day — Sept. 17, 2013! — that’s great. We have an event guide to help you plan, and as always, lots of free fact sheets for you to share.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Get Ready Story: Knowing the importance of preparing for hurricanes

As a part of National Preparedness Month, APHA’s Get Ready campaign asked people to share their preparedness stories with us. Our first story is from Carol L., of Satellite Beach, Fla. Carol tells us how her family gets ready for hurricanes:

Image: Hurricane Andrew making landfall
on the Florida coast,
August 24, 1992 - Courtesy
NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection

“Every year on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, residents prepare ahead for the hurricane season. A few years ago, a hurricane did major damage that knocked out power for a week.

Luckily, we had volunteers who helped us through the days. Different banks and insurance companies delivered bags of ice to those who needed it. EMTs and National Guard members checked to make sure everyone was healthy. Those who had battery-operated saws volunteered to clear the roads. Residents pitched in to help their neighbors.

Now, we have a list that we post in our laundry room of all the supplies we need to purchase before the season starts. All emergency gadgets are tested to make sure they are in working condition. We have purchased a butane stove. We do not purchase a large amount of food for the freezer. Instead, we leave room to store ice that will keep things cool for a while. We have a good supply of our prescriptions. We also have a plan for evacuation in case we are told to leave the barrier island. Our cars' gas tanks are kept full. The county has assigned buildings that we can use for a few days. Some of the buildings accept pets; others are for those medically impaired. We are ready but we are very happy when the storm passes out to sea.”

How do you get ready for emergencies? Share your story in the comments or send us an email!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Announcing APHA’s Get Ready Cat Preparedness Photo Contest

Do you love animals and emergency preparedness as much as we do? Then we’ve got a contest for you!

From now until Sept. 30, send us photos of your feline friends to enter APHA’s Get Ready Cat Preparedness Photo Contest. We’re looking for the best pictures of your cute kittens and trouble-making cats. We will add some funny captions and share your cat’s message about emergency preparedness with the world. The winning photos will go into our Get Ready calendar.

Check out our gallery of preparedness cat photos to get an idea of what we’re looking for. You can also read the frequently asked questions and the rules and regulations pages to find out more.

When you’re ready to send us your great pictures, you can enter the contest by following these directions.

We can’t wait to see what you and your cats come up with!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

September is National Preparedness Month

September is a big month for us here at Get Ready, because it’s also National Preparedness Month — the time of year where we work really hard to spread the word about getting yourself, your family and your community ready for disasters.

We have lots of great things in store for you this month. Our big day is Tuesday, Sept. 18 — Get Ready Day. Get Ready Day was created in 2007 to help people join together to help make their homes, communities, schools and workplaces more prepared. We have a section on our website dedicated to Get Ready Day, with information and tools to help you hold your own Get Ready Day event and event ideas. Check it out and let us know how you are planning to celebrate!

The fun doesn’t stop there. All throughout the month on this blog and our Twitter account,  we’ll be sharing information to help you prepare for anything. Stay tuned for blog posts about back-to-school preparedness and other features.

Plus, we’ve even started a cool new contest so that you can get your cats in on the emergency preparedness fun! (Yes, we said cats.)

Check back for more tips, tricks and useful information. And remember to sign up for our Get Ready Now! quarterly newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!