Monday, November 25, 2013

Public Health Thank You Day is Nov. 25

Before settling down to enjoy Thanksgiving, take a few minutes to thank some of those people who make it possible for us to celebrate.
Sometimes it can be easy to take things for granted, such as the fact that community flu clinics are held every year, or that shelters are available after a storm. But without public health professionals on the job, these things wouldn’t come so easily. Public Health Thank You Day, observed Nov. 25, is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the people who make things safe for us.
Public health professionals work hard every day to protect and improve the health of others, including promoting preparedness. From encouraging people to get vaccinated for the flu to educating communities about how to prepare for a natural disaster, public health professionals make it happen. Without their efforts, Americans would be much less likely to be prepared for emergencies, so the Get Ready campaign is showing them our thanks.
Research!America, along with APHA and other public health organizations, recognize these public health professionals every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving. They are asking you to give special thanks to your local public health heroes today. Thank these individuals for what they do, and honor their work by being prepared to further improve the health of your community.
Check out the work these public health professionals are doing across the country and visit Research!America’s Public Health Thank You Day Toolkit for ways to be involved.
Thank you, public health workers!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

‘Tis the season to get ready!

Flat Stella and Flat Stanley visit Queens, NY.
FEMA/Andre R Aragon
As you’re preparing for the holiday season, the Get Ready campaign reminds you to be safe while traveling. Whether you plan to visit the grandparents or take a winter ski trip, it’s important to be prepared for emergencies, disasters and infectious diseases.
Through all of the holiday hustle and bustle, let’s not forget how important it is to stay safe from infections and bacteria. The holiday season coincides with flu season, so it’s important to get your flu vaccine before you travel to see family and friends. The last thing you want to do is spread germs while at the Thanksgiving dinner table or unwrapping gifts. Whether you travel by train, airplane or car, you’re sure to come in contact with many people, some of whom may already be sick. Remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and make sure to clean surfaces that could have germs on them.
While you may be prepared at home and have an emergency kit stowed away, emergency preparedness doesn’t end simply because you leave home. Make sure to pack a kit to keep in your car if you are taking a road trip, or to take along with you on that family ski trip. Also, know the risks of the places you are visiting. Is grandma’s house in an area at risk of earthquakes? Could a blizzard strike while you are on your ski trip? Update your communication plan before you leave home so that everyone knows what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency.
The Get Ready team wants your holiday season to be full of joy and cheer, and safe. Enjoy time with family and friends and update your emergency preparedness plans for your upcoming travels!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Knowing when antibiotics work — and when they don’t
From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
It’s Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, an annual event promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The week teaches people how to use antibiotics the right way and draws attention to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics are crucial for treating and curing bacterial infections, and it’s very important to use them exactly as your doctor advises. This means that you should only take the prescribed dose and complete the full course of an antibiotic, even if you feel better before you run out of medication. Otherwise, you may get re-infected by bacteria that’s still inside you.

We tend to think that antibiotics work for every illness, when actually they don’t. Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics don’t work against infections caused by viruses. The flu and common colds are caused by viruses, so those sniffles and aches aren’t going to be cured by an antibiotic.

Using antibiotics when they aren’t needed can be harmful. If they aren’t used correctly, antibiotics can stop working. In fact, some diseases that were treatable with antibiotics have already become resistant to them, meaning they don’t work as well as they should, or worse, don’t work at all. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed or misusing them also increases the risk that an infection you get later will resist antibiotic treatment.

CDC has more tips for using antibiotics wisely:
  • Get smart about what kinds of upper respiratory infections are usually caused by viruses and can’t be cured with an antibiotic.
  • Take antibiotics only if they’re prescribed to you. Don’t share and or use leftover antibiotics.
  • Don’t save your antibiotics for the next time you get sick. Properly dispose of any leftover medication once your prescribed dose is complete.
  • Prevent infections by practicing good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, and getting recommended vaccines.
  • Don’t ask for antibiotics when your doctor doesn’t think you need them. Antibiotics have side effects, and taking them when they’re not essential may do you more harm than good.
Now that you know how to be smart about antibiotics, spread the word! Send a CDC e-card, add a logo to your website and read this helpful tip sheet from APHA.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What to do when disaster strikes somewhere else

When disaster happens, whether it’s close to home or in a faraway country, it can spark many emotions. Pictures of the devastation can be heartbreaking while news reports of the event can cause fear for one’s own safety. On the other hand, a crisis can also bring out the best in people and nations as they rush to help those in need.

Here are some tips and tools for coping and helping with a disaster that happens somewhere else.

Address your emotions
According to the American Psychological Association, shock and denial are normal reactions to an event the size of Typhoon Haiyan that recently struck the Philippines. Pay close attention to the level of intensity of your feelings, interpersonal relationships and any physical symptoms that may arise. Be sure to also read how these responses can change over time in Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering from Disasters and Other Traumatic Events.

Get ready
Reading about a disaster can make you worry about such an event happening in your town. Take this opportunity to learn what types of disasters could occur in your region and what steps you should take to prepare. While you may never experience flooding from a typhoon, your area could be at a high risk for wildfires or other emergency. Before disaster strikes:

Send help
The best way to help immediately after a disaster is to donate to a relief organization. USA Today has compiled a list of agencies responding in the Philippines who need your help, including UNICEF, American Red Cross, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.

Material donations can actually harm relief efforts by clogging supply chains, taking away space needed to stage life-saving relief supplies and diverting relief workers’ time. If you already have these items collected, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Center for International Disaster Information has compiled a list of 55 Ways to Repurpose a Material Donation. They also offer several tools and guides to help you help those in need.

A disaster can be a scary and disturbing event no matter where it occurs. Be sure to take care of your emotional healthget prepared and send appropriate help to those in need.

Friday, November 08, 2013

You’ve changed your clocks, now check your stocks

Daylight saving time is over, which means that we’ve all changed our clocks back (except for Arizona and Hawaii, which don’t take part in the practice).

But there’s one more step you may still need to take: checking your emergency preparedness supplies.

It’s easy to forget about your emergency stockpile, particularly if you have it tucked away into a closet or basement. But if an emergency occurs, you want it to have everything you need — and that means checking up on it every once in awhile.

APHA’s Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign recommends using the twice-annual time change as a reminder to check your stockpile.

You should make sure nothing’s been removed from your emergency stockpile, that batteries or water haven’t leaked and that food hasn’t expired. Use our supplies list to double-check that you have everything you need in your stockpile, and add items as needed. If your life has changed since you assembled the stockpile, such as the addition of a new family member or a change in medical condition, you should add supplies to account for that as well.

If you haven’t created a stockpile yet, now is the time to put one together. (And if you haven’t tested your smoke alarm and changed its batteries, you should do that as well.) All Americans should have at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in their homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day. If you have the space, experts recommend a week’s supply of food and water. Choose foods that don’t require refrigeration and are not high in salt. Your stockpile should also contain flashlights, a manual can opener, a radio and batteries, among other items.

Visit our Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks page for tools and tips for creating the perfect stockpile. If you are on a budget we have you covered. See our fact sheet for compiling an emergency stockpile without spending a fortune.