Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New video game helps kids get ready for disasters

Are you a disaster hero? You can become one with a new game from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Disaster Hero is an online game created to teach young people — and gamers of all ages! — about preparing for disasters. The game takes players through a series of challenges that will help them learn about preparing an emergency kit and making a disaster plan, as well as staying safe before, during and after four common natural disasters — hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods.

Screenshot from Disaster Hero
The game is free and is designed for students in first grade and older. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection can play — no sign-up is required. Players who create a free account can save their scores and design their own character.

Have you played the Disaster Hero game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This Valentine’s Day, show your loved ones you care — about emergency preparedness!

When you love someone, you want to keep them safe, especially in an emergency situation such as a disaster.

Here at APHA’s Get Ready campaign, we think Valentine’s Day is a great time to think about preparing for emergencies. What’s more romantic than saying you care enough to prepare?

Tornado preparedness e-card from Get Ready.
On that note, we’ve created some free emergency preparedness-themed Valentine’s Day cards for you to send to your loved ones. With topics ranging from flu shots and hand-washing to stockpiling and pet preparedness, we’ve got something for everyone.

The cards are free, and you can email, tweet or post them to Facebook — or even print them out! Just visit our e-card page to see the options and pick your favorites.

What holiday should we celebrate next? Tell us in the comments!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Drop, cover and hold on: Tomorrow is the Great Central U.S. Shakeout!

At 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, more than 2 million Americans in nine central U.S. states will drop to the ground and hold on. No, it’s not a new dance craze — Thursday, Feb. 7, is the Great Central U.S. Shakeout!

The shakeout is a chance to practice your earthquake preparedness drills. Millions of people take part in these drills every year. Even if you don’t live in an area where earthquakes frequently occur, it’s important to be prepared, as they can happen anywhere and anytime. (Just ask people who lived in central Virginia in 2011.)

If you’ve never run an emergency drill before, the shakeout website makes it easy — there are free toolkits for schools, offices and home on the organization’s resources page

If you live in the central U.S., you can participate in tomorrow’s drill by signing up here. And if you live in another state, or even another country, don’t worry — there will be more Shakeout drills throughout the year!

Getting ready for earthquakes has never been so simple.

Let us know how your shakeout goes in the comments!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Get Ready Scholarship: Apply now!

APHA is happy to announce that its Get Ready Scholarship is now open for submissions.

High school seniors as well as college undergraduates and graduate students are welcome to enter the contest. We will award two $500 scholarships for the best essays in each student category.

Sounds great, right? All you have to do is write a short essay answering one of three questions about preparedness. The contest is open until March 25 or until we receive 300 essays in each student category. That means one thing: Get your essays in now!

For more information, check out our Get Ready Scholarship page.

We’re looking forward to reading all of your great essays!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Get your mobile phone disaster-ready

According to the American Red Cross, more Americans are using social media and apps during disasters. Mobile phone apps and social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are now tied as the fourth most popular way to find information in an emergency, after TV, radio and the Internet.

Cellphones, smartphone apps and social media tools are especially useful during disasters when phone lines are down and power is out. That’s why the Federal Emergency Management Agency is focusing its 2013 Resolve to be Ready campaign on including these technologies in your emergency preparedness plans. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Mobile phones: The following tips are useful for any type of cellphone:
  • Add “ICE” contacts to your phone. ICE, or in case of emergency, contacts will help first responders get in touch with your loved ones if an emergency happens. It’s a good idea to add a local ICE contact and one that lives out-of-state to your phone’s list of contacts. 

  • Text — don’t call — when phones are busy. Phone lines are often busy during and after emergencies as many people try to contact loved ones, but oftentimes texts can get through. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to send text messages. 

  • Find out if you can get Wireless Emergency Alerts on your phone. FEMA and many U.S. cellphone carriers have teamed up to create a system for Wireless Emergency Alerts. These are messages sent to your phone just like text messages, only they contain emergency information. These could be sent during disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or terrorist attacks. You don’t need to sign up for these alerts — they are automatically sent to most cellphones. To check and see if you can receive these messages on your phone, visit the Wireless Emergency Alerts website.

Smart phones: Can you access the Internet or download apps on your phone? Here are some more ideas to use your phone to get ready:

  • Download emergency apps. If you have a smartphone, there are many apps you can download that can be very useful in an emergency. The American Red Cross has created apps to help people during earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires. The organization also has a first aid app and an app to help you find a local shelter during a disaster. You can find more information about these apps (and get them for free!) on the Red Cross website.

  • Use social media to let friends and family know you’re safe. In a recent survey, Red Cross found that 76 percent of Americans use social media to check in with friends and family after an emergency. Posting a simple message such as “There was a tornado in my neighborhood — power is out but we are OK” on your Facebook or Twitter account can help let people know that you are safe. 

  • Find local emergency information online. Check Facebook and Twitter to see if your local government, fire or police and local Red Cross chapters have set up accounts and follow them before an emergency happens. On a national level, you can also follow organizations such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other trusted sources. APHA’s list of national and regional emergency preparedness Twitter users is a good start. And don’t forget to follow @GetReady on Twitter!

  • Reminder: While these sources are great, if you are in a life-threatening situation, remember to always call 911 first.

Do you have any other tips for preparing with your mobile phone? Do you have another emergency app you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments!