Friday, March 28, 2014

Don’t panic! April 8 of National Public Health Week to focus on preparedness

Each year, communities come together to celebrate National Public Health Week, a nationwide observance organized by APHA. This year, the event will include a day devoted especially to raising awareness of preparedness.
Tuesday, April 8, will be celebrated around the theme of “Don’t Panic.” National Public Health Week participants are encouraged to share disaster preparedness tips in their communities so residents can be ready for the unexpected.
Luckily, APHA’s Get Ready campaign has a wealth of free fact sheets, resources and tools to help you spread that message. Check out our materials page for information on natural disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes as well as human-caused emergencies such as chemical spills or radiological disasters. There is also info for special audiences, such as parents, seniors and people with disabilities. You can even add your logo to our materials!
A good message to share in your community is the need for residents to have an emergency stockpile. Let everyone know they should have disaster supplies ready, including at least a three-day supply of bottled water and non-perishable foods. A first-aid kit, batteries, flashlights and other supplies are also essential. Not sure what should be in your stockpile? Print out our checklist.
Tell us what preparedness events you have planned for April 7-13 during National Public Health Week by sharing them on the event website.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Preparing for floods: A threat to life that can occur at any time

Did you know that we all live in flood zones? No matter where you live, there is a risk of flooding. While some areas have a higher risk than others, it’s important that we all be prepared. As this is National Flood Safety Awareness Week, now is a good time to stop and think about floods.
According to the National Flood Insurance program, “in the past five years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods”. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that about 90 people die each year in the U.S. from floods, which cause about $8.3 billion in damages.
Let’s look at some information about floods. Floods can come on rapidly or slowly build up. Flooding can spread over large areas or occur over a small area. The cause can be rainfall, a rising river or tide, or a broken dam or water main. During a flood, shallow creeks, streams or dry beds can become very deep. Roads can become rushing rivers, washing away vehicles and people.
Here are some plans to make before a flood:
  • Know the flood risks in your community and neighborhood. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides free maps through its Map Service Center. Just enter your address.
  • Check out NOAA’s Spring Flood Outlook, which shows where and when flooding is most likely to occur in the U.S. over the next few months.
  • Have a plan for family communication and evacuation.
  • Store important documents such as insurance papers, passports, birth certificates, etc., in waterproof containers. A zippered plastic bag can work in a pinch.
  • Make sure your furnace, water heater and electric panel are elevated.
Some things to remember during a flood:
  • Be prepared to evacuate. If you do have to leave, follow official evacuation routes, as they are more likely to be safe. Pay attention to news reports for the latest information before heading out.
  • Don’t walk through moving water, as little as six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet.
  • Don’t ever drive into flooded areas. Half of all flood-related deaths that occur each year are associated with vehicles, says NOAA. Even if it looks safe, it may not be.
  • Remember to take essentials such as medication, emergency supplies and important documents when you evacuate.
Some things to do after a flood:
  • Continue to check news outlets for ongoing information.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and damaged areas.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Some things may need to be discarded, such as food.
For more information, check out Get Ready’s flood fact sheet, which is available in English and Spanish.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Winter weather and mass transit: Tips for a safe commute

WMATA riders exit train into snow shower.
Photo: Patrick Benko/APHA
Many of us use public transportation to get to school and work. During the winter, it’s especially important to stay aware, because winter weather can hit unexpectedly and complicate your daily commute.

In our latest podcast, APHA’s Get Ready campaign speaks with Caroline Laurin, manager of media relations and deputy chief spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, about the importance of being prepared for winter weather during your commute via mass transit. The transit authority is responsible for bus and metro-rail service in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region and is the second largest transit system in terms of the number of daily riders.

“Whenever you have a commute in unfortunate weather, it’s always best to plan ahead,” Laurin says. “We encourage our customers to dress warmly and give themselves extra time because trains might be running a little delayed and you don’t want to get late to wherever it is you are heading.”

Snow and ice build-up can affect bus and train routes and throw a wrench into your usual commute. It’s a good idea to know an alternate way to get to and from your destination before setting out. Generally, you can look up multiple, alternate routes from your transportation provider’s website.

“Being familiar with your surroundings and your transportation service is a good idea,” Laurin says. “It will never hurt to know that if you can’t get home using your usual route, another bus line may get you home.”

Your commute may involve waiting outdoors for a bus or train, especially if the weather causes delays. Remember that when you are in cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce it. To prevent heat loss, dress warmly in moisture-resistant layers, including jackets, coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots.

“If you have the option and can get to where you are going before the worst of the weather hits and if you have enough warning, that is something we would encourage,” Laurin says. “However, we do understand that weather can hit unexpectedly or more fiercely than anticipated.”

Listen to our podcast with Laurin online now. For more tips, check out our Get Ready winter preparedness fact sheets.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Do you know what to put in your emergency stockpile? Get tips in our new podcast

Daylight saving time is here, which means you probably set your clocks ahead an hour this weekend. But did you remember to check your emergency supplies as well? It can be hard to remember to update your stockpile, which is why APHA’s Get Ready campaign uses the clock change as a reminder.
Creating and updating your emergency stockpile is important, says Cheryl Kravitz, director of communication at the American Red Cross, National Capital Region, in our latest Get Ready Report podcast.
It’s important to have emergency supplies — including food, water, batteries, flashlights and a first-aid kit — ready to use in the event of an emergency. Kravitz offers tips on other items to keep in your stockpile, such as cash, a manual can opener and prescription medications.
When you think about making a stockpile, keep in mind that you never know when and where an emergency can happen, Kravitz says, noting she personally has three stockpiles — “one in the front closet by my front door, one in my office and one in my car.”
Wait, an emergency stockpile in the car? Yes, it’s important to have one there as well.
“If there’s a snowstorm and you get stranded on the road, it would be really awful to be stranded on the road without having a blanket, food, the necessary items to survive in your car for eight or 10 hours,” says Kravitz.
Here are some tips to create or update your emergency stockpile:
  • Keep at least three days worth of food and water in your emergency stockpile. Download this checklist from the Get Ready campaign to build or update your stockpile.
  • Make sure to include items for children or other family members with special dietary restrictions.
  • Rotate your stockpile. Get tips from Get Ready’s Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign on when and how to do so.
  • Don’t forget about your pets! Make sure you have at least three days worth of food and water for them as well.
  • Be sure to keep your emergency stockpile in an accessible, cool, dark place.
The key to staying safe during any type of emergency is planning and preparation, says Kravitz.
“The American Red Cross really encourages everyone with the phrase of, ‘get a kit, make a plan and be informed,’” she says.
Listen to the podcast now or read the transcript. Check out our Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks page for information to download and share, including fact sheets, e-cards and games for kids.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Spread the word: It’s almost time to set your clocks and check your stocks!

Set your clocks, check your stocks
Daylight saving begins March 9.

How often should you refresh your emergency supplies? At least every six months, experts say. But with everything else that’s going on in life, remembering to do so can be hard.
That’s why APHA’s Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks  campaign uses the twice-a-year clock change as a reminder. The campaign advises people to refresh their stockpile, such as their emergency food, water and batteries, when they adjust their clocks for daylight saving time.
And guess what? The next clock change is just around the corner. Daylight saving time starts Sunday, March 9.
Every American should have at least a three-day supply of food and water in case of an emergency, including one gallon of water per person per day, according to preparedness experts. Other supplies that should be on hand include a first-aid kit, a can opener, flashlight, battery-operated radio and batteries.
Now that you know to check your stockpile, you can help your friends, family and community be prepared for disasters, too. Here are just some ways you can remind people to check their stockpiles:
Thanks for spreading the word and helping your friends, family and community get ready!