Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Announcing the winners of our cat preparedness photo contest

When we announced APHA’s Get Ready Cat Preparedness Photo Contest in September, we hoped that people would have fun and think creatively about emergency preparedness messages. We didn’t know just how popular the contest would be!

The contest was featured on I Can Has Cheezburger? and written about on ScienceBlogs, where we were called “part of the new (and awesome) public health.” (Aww, shucks!)

Thanks to all of this attention, we received hundreds of great photos of your purr-fectly prepared kittens and cats. After lots of hard decisions — and many “awwwws” — we’ve picked our winners.

Twenty-three photos were selected for Get Ready 2013 Catastrophes Calendar. Check out the winning photos online and share them with your friends. Scroll to the bottom of the page to download and print your own copy of the calendar!

And because we thought every cat was cute, check out some of the other kitties who didn’t make it into the calendar.

If you are at APHA's 140th Annual Meeting in San Francisco Oct. 27–31, stop by the Get Ready expo booth, #2325, to pick up a free copy of the calendar.

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos to our contest!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More than 13 million people are getting ready for earthquakes this week

What are you doing Thursday, Oct. 18, at 10:18 a.m. local time?

Get Ready and APHA will join more than 13 million people around the world to get ready for the most unpredictable kind of disaster — earthquakes!

The event is called the Great ShakeOut, and it’s designed to help people prepare for emergencies by practicing what they will do in an earthquake. This year, millions of people in the U.S. will be joined by people in Canada and Italy to hold the world’s largest earthquake drill.

To find out if your state, region or territory is participating, visit shakeout.org. You can also check for local events or sign up to hold your own. If you don’t live in an area where there are official events going on, you can still hold your own drill and sign up.

The best part is that the Great ShakeOut makes it really easy to plan an earthquake drill by providing instructions, posters, videos and even sound effects to help make your event simple and effective. There are free resources for schools, businesses, health care offices, houses of worship and your home.

So, what are you waiting for? Be part of something huge: Shake out with us this Thursday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Celebrating Global Handwashing Day

Today is Global Hand-washing Day. Yes, you heard us right: Hand-washing has its own worldwide celebration.

Why make such a fuss over washing your hands? Because hand-washing is a pretty big deal! Here in the U.S., we might take soap and water for granted, but it is one of the most important things a person can do to stay healthy. In fact, a study of students in Detroit showed that people who wash their hands properly reported 24 percent fewer colds and 51 percent fewer stomach illnesses.
"Wash Your Hands" poster in 24 launguages, courtesy the Minnesota Department of Health
Image: "Wash Your Hands" poster in 24 languages,
courtesy Minnesota Department of Public Health

So how do you wash your hands the right way? Take five:
  1. Use clean, warm water.
  2. Lather up with soap.
  3. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds — long enough to say the alphabet, or sing the “happy birthday” song twice.
  4. Rinse your hands with clean water.
  5. Dry your hands.
If soap and clean water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content.

That’s it! If you start practicing healthy hand habits today, each and every time you wash your hands, you’re already on your way to a healthier you.

For more information about hand-washing, and for tips on talking to kids, teens and adults about the best way to wash their hands, check out our free fact sheets!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The biggest disaster threat in the US – and what YOU can do to prevent it!

What disaster poses the biggest threat in the U.S.?

You might be surprised to find out that it’s not earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or other severe weather: fires are the most common home disaster in our country. In 2010, the American Red Cross responded to a home fire an average of once every 8 minutes.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that — unlike other disasters — most home fires can be prevented!

Oct. 7-13 is National Fire Prevention Week so we wanted to share some tips to help you get ready for fires at home:
  • Make sure you have a smoke detector installed on every floor, and change the batteries at least once a year. We recommend checking your smoke detectors and emergency stockpiles when you change your clocks on Nov. 4, 2012 – or as we like to call it, Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks day!
  • Make sure you think about what your family will do during a fire when you sit down to make emergency plans. FEMA recommends that you “Have Two Ways Out” of every room. And don’t forget to pick a place to meet up once everyone is out safely!
  • Check out our Home Disasters fact sheet [PDF] for more tips about preparing your home for disasters.
  • If you live in an area at risk for wildfires, you should make extra plans for your home and your family. Check out our recent blog post about wildfires, or download our fact sheet [PDF] for more info!
We hope this information helps you and your family prepare for a fire and stay safe.

Do you have any stories to share about home fires? Let us know in the comments or send us an email!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

My Get Ready Story: Being prepared, no matter where you live

As a part of National Preparedness Month, APHA’s Get Ready campaign asked people to share their preparedness stories with us. Cyndi H., of Anaheim, Calif., shared her story about moving to a new state and how it’s helped her be more prepared.

“I’m originally from Florida, so my idea of disaster preparedness was waiting until hurricane season approached and then checking my supplies and restocking. When I moved to California a year ago, I knew my threats were different, as I now faced earthquakes and wildfires. But I wasn’t concerned and delayed my preparations, assuming I’d make a plan and gather my supplies at some point.

Then one day while at work, the earth shook. It didn’t last long and it wasn’t strong, but the message was clear: I wasn’t ready. Did I have any supplies at work or home? What kind of supplies did I need? How would I get home if the roads weren’t clear? Did I have a plan to meet up with my husband?

A good kit, like this one from the Red Cross, makes all the difference!
Now, my husband and I both travel with earthquake backpacks and have stocks of supplies at home. We carry emergency food, water, lighting, radios, first aid, batteries, copies of identification and basic tools. We conducted a home evaluation to familiarize ourselves with shut-offs for gas, water and electricity, placed emergency lighting throughout and checked our smoke detectors. We’ve also made a plan to maintain communication and meet up with each other in the case we are separated when an emergency occurs.  

A few weeks ago the ground shook again. But this time I wasn’t as startled or as worried. It only took a few hours one day to get ourselves prepared. The peace of mind I’ve gained was worth the effort.” 

Have you ever moved and realized that you needed to change your emergency plans because of new threats? Let us know in the comments!