Thursday, December 17, 2015

Infographic: 5 ways to prevent the flu

Do you know how to prevent the flu? Check out these 5 easy tips.


1. Get vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is the most important way you can protect yourself from the flu. When you get vaccinated, you’re much less likely to get sick.
2. Wash your hands often

Hand-washing is a great way to get rid of germs. Washing your hands with soap and water before and after eating, after coughing or sneezing and after using the bathroom can make a big difference when preventing flu. 
3. Stay away from people who are sick

Keeping your distance from others who have the flu can reduce your chance of getting sick. Flu viruses can spread through air and via surfaces, so stay away from people who are sick.
4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands

Touching surfaces that are contaminated with germs and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth can allow for the flu virus to enter your body.
5. Practice good hygiene

Clean surfaces and objects in your home, at work, at school and elsewhere to reduce the chances of spreading the flu.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Test your knowledge of preparedness with a Get Ready quiz

Think you know it all about getting ready for disasters? How's your knowledge of flu vaccinations?
Test your knowledge of preparedness in one of our new Get Ready quizzes and find out just how ready you are.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It’s time to get smart about antibiotics

Did you know that every year, at least 2 million people in the United States are infected with bacteria that can’t be cured by antibiotics — and at least 23,000 die because of it?

Antibiotic resistance makes some medicines unable to stop or heal sickness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist Arjun Srinivasan, MD, told us that we all have a role to play in keeping antibiotics effective. During Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, he told Get Ready several “simple things like cleaning your hands properly using soap and water” and getting flu shots can help.

“What these things do is they reduce your chance of getting ill,” he said. “And we know if you don’t get ill, you’re less likely to wind up in a doctor’s office or an emergency department where you might get an antibiotic prescription that you may not need.”

Listen to our podcast with Srinivasan, and learn how you can get smart about antibiotics.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A quick sniff up the nose can prevent the flu

Patient getting the nasal spray flu vaccine
CDC/ Dr. Bill Atkinson
Have you been putting off getting your flu vaccination because you’re afraid of needles? Would you believe us if we said that there’s a quick, easy and needle-free alternative? Well, fear no more! The nasal spray flu vaccine is here.

Every year, thousands of people in the United States die from the flu and even more are hospitalized. The flu season occurs in the fall and the winter and can peak from late November through March, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In fact, flu cases are happening right now around the country. Sadly, health officials in California reported in November that both an infant and an adult have already died from flu this season.

Getting the nasal spray flu vaccine can not only keep you from getting the flu, but it can make your symptoms less severe if you do get it. Plus, it can prevent you from spreading your flu germs to your family and friends — including people who can’t get the vaccine, such as young babies.

So how does the nasal spray flu vaccine differ from the shot? For one, there’s that no needle thing. The nasal vaccine is also made from a weakened flu virus. But don’t worry — it can’t cause the flu. (Really!)

The spray works for both kids and adults and it’s safe for healthy people ages 2 through 49, says CDC. There are some folks who shouldn’t use it, though. For example, the nasal spray flu vaccine shouldn’t be used with people who are pregnant or have egg allergies, or in certain young kids with asthma, so check with your health provider before vaccination.

Flu vaccines take about two weeks for protection to develop, so it’s a good idea to get vaccinated ASAP. Luckily, protection lasts for the entire flu season. (Score!)

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you may have heard that nasal spray flu vaccine manufacturers fell behind in shipping out vaccine supplies this year. So there’s a possibility that you may not find the nasal vaccine at the first place you try. You may want to call around to pharmacies, your doctor and local health department and ask if they have supplies before heading out for your vaccination.

But if you can’t find the nasal spray, don’t put off your vaccination: talk to your health provider about the regular flu shot instead. You don’t want to risk your health by waiting.

No one wants to miss out on all of the wonderful holiday festivities because of the flu. Muscle aches, sore throats, headaches and chills are not something you want to have while spending time with friends and family (or spread to them).

Want more facts on flu vaccination to read and share? Check out our Get Ready fact sheet. To find a vaccination site near you, use the Healthmap Vaccine Finder.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

How prepared is your child’s school for disasters?

Photo: Lisa Apt/
You’ve bought your kids their supplies, shown them how to ride the bus and even managed to get them out of bed. But there’s one more thing to think about now that school’s back in session: Emergency preparedness. Being prepared is important no matter where you are, so how can you be sure your child’s school is ready?

Most schools have some sort of emergency preparedness policies, either by regulation or choice. But they can vary from school to school. To really know what’s going on, call your child’s school leaders and check in.

Here are five preparedness questions you can use to get the conversation started.

  1. What steps are in place in case of disasters? Most schools have plans ready for disasters and community problems. Get a copy and find out where your child will be in case of an emergency. Ask about fire drills and other lessons.
  2. What can I do to get my child ready? Ask about vaccination requirements as your child ages and make sure your children are up to date on their vaccinations. Also, make sure your child knows her or his address, the full names of parents or guardians as well as important phone numbers. It’s also a good idea to designate another trusted emergency contact for your child in case you’re unavailable.
  3. Where can I get information about the school during an emergency? Extreme weather or emergencies can close schools or send students home early. Ask how you’ll be notified and how you can be ready if schedules change.
  4. If a serious emergency occurs, is there a place for children to shelter-in-place? Is there a stockpile of food, water and medical supplies? Schools should be able to provide for students’ basic needs during emergencies.
  5. After an emergency, what support is offered to students? Emergencies can be hard on students, even if no one is hurt. Ask about how students are supported afterward in terms of academics, mental health and more.

Making sure your child’s school is ready for emergencies is an important part of back-to-school season. With a few questions, you can take an active role in making sure your children will be safe while they learn.

For more information on how to get ready for disasters, check out our school preparedness fact sheet.

Friday, November 06, 2015

From the archive: Got asthma? An extra reason to get your flu shot

This post originally appeared on our blog in November of 2008:

Fever, aches and chills. Yuck! Flu season is upon us, and for many who come down with these symptoms, a few days in bed and plenty of fluid may be just what the doctor orders. But if you’re one of the more than 22 million Americans with asthma, the flu can lead to conditions that are much worse.

Photo: Patrick Benko
When you have asthma, your airways are already somewhat inflamed. They overreact to irritants and allergens, including viruses. Rather than fighting the virus, your lungs may secrete substances that promote inflammation. Making matters worse, viruses can replicate themselves more extensively in lungs affected by asthma than in healthy lungs.

Therefore, many health experts recommend that people with asthma get an annual flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with asthma are at high risk of developing complications after contracting the flu virus, yet most adults with asthma don’t get their annual flu shot.

So if you have asthma, take steps to protect yourself from flu: Avoid people who are sick. Wash your hands regularly. And if you haven’t gotten your flu shot, get one today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Let’s get our preparedness on at #APHA15!

Getting excited for APHA’s Annual Meeting in Chicago this month? So are we! The 143rd Annual Meeting and Exposition, which will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 4, will be packed with public health information, including our favorite topic: preparedness!

The Annual Meeting program, which you can scope out online now, is full of presentations on disaster planning, response and readiness. From household preparedness and community partnerships to disease outbreaks and nuclear disasters, there’ll be plenty to feed your hunger for preparedness.

Some of our top preparedness picks at the meeting include:

Once you’ve had your fill of preparedness presentations — as if that’s even possible! — head on over to our Get Ready booth at the expo. We’ll be passing out free copies of our awesome 2016 calendar, featuring adorable animals and preparedness advice. We’ll also have fact sheets and other tools that you can use in your job and community — as well as some super cool preparedness giveaways. Look for us in the APHA area of the expo, at booth 1429-10E.

If you want to meet some of the fine folks behind the Get Ready campaign - including staff who work on the @GetReady Twitter, blog and website — stop by our Social Media Meetup on Sunday at 6 p.m.

And don’t forget that while you’re at the Annual Meeting, it’s important to network like a boss — with clean hands that don’t spread disease.

If you can’t attend all of these great sessions plus the hundreds of other sessions you want to attend, you can take home the Annual Meeting by purchasing RAMP: Recorded Annual Meeting Presentations. RAMP gives you flexibility to take in sessions or events on-site without the fear of missing a presentation. Stop by any registration desk to purchase RAMP.
See you in Chicago!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Guest blog: Being prepared for anything while in the wild

Today’s guest blog is by Toby Amodeo, an American University public health and film student who was APHA’s Get Ready intern in summer 2015.

Summer is the perfect time to get out into the wild. For me, that meant a 10-day canoeing trip this August up in southern Canada with a group of Boy Scouts. Following the scout motto of “Be Prepared,” we had to make sure we were ready to head out into some of the most remote wilderness we’d ever be in.

This wasn’t a normal paddle down the river. People die in Quetico Provincial Park, the site of our trip. Some locations are so remote it would take up to three days for help to arrive in an emergency. We had to be sure we were ready in case of injury, storms and anything else.

One of the first things we did was make a float plan, a schedule of where we planned to paddle. Even if it changed slightly, someone back at base would at least know generally where we were. Our interpreter, otherwise known as our guide, carried a shortwave radio in a water-tight case, just in case we needed to get in touch quickly.

Next, we made sure our first-aid kit was stocked with everything we needed. We would be facing sprains, cuts, bug bites and lots of blisters, since our feet were wet more than they were dry. Being well-prepared includes tailoring your strategy to the most likely problems, so we carried plenty of antiseptic wipes and bandages for blisters. Your kit might be unique to your trip. If weight is a concern, leave out bulky items in favor of more useful, lighter ones.

Another item we made sure to bring was bug spray with at least 20 percent DEET. Northern Minnesota and southern Canada are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Plus, the ticks there can carry Lyme disease. We made sure to include tweezers in our first-aid kit and kept them readily accessible.

That’s just the beginning of what we did to prepare. We had special procedures for cleaning dishes, cooking food and more. When out in remote settings, it’s much more likely that we’ll have an emergency. The steps may seem tedious, but I’ve seen them prevent injuries and illnesses time and time again. Being prepared means we can enjoy the wilderness without worry. So grab your pack and paddle and I’ll see you on the water!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Community safety: Why you should be prepared for dam failure

Fact: there are way more dams than the Hoover Dam in the United States. Actually, there are over 87,000 dams across the country. There are nearly six times more dams than McDonald’s restaurants in the United States.
The Norris Dam in Tennessee
Norris Dam, Tennessee
Photo credit // Tennessee Valley Authority

There’s probably a dam close to where you live.  Dams are used for flood protection, power, recreation and more.

We all have to know the dangers to stay safe around dams. First and foremost, find out if you live near a dam. Call your local leaders to find out who owns and regulates dams near you. Ask if there is an emergency action plan in place in case there is a problem and how residents will be alerted during an emergency. Just like when preparing for a flood, know
your evacuation route and have emergency supplies packed to go. And be sure to have flood insurance.

The Fresno Dam, just north of Havre, Montana
The Fresno Dam created a major lake and
protects many communities in Montana.
Photo credit // Bureau of Reclamation
Around a third of dams pose a high risk to people and property if they fail, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  The nation’s dams are aging, and there are a lot of reasons a dam can fail. Most people who live in “inundation zones” — aka the areas that would be flooded if a dam fails — don’t know they’re at risk.

One cause of dam failures is extreme storms. Keep a battery-operated radio in your emergency stockpile for updates on the water level if the power goes out during a storm.

If you swim in a lake made by a dam, stay away from the dam itself. There are often hidden pipes that suck in water. You definitely don’t want to be near one of those. Avoid the other side of the dam where the water comes out. Water levels can change fast because of how some dams work. This means that a calm stream can turn into a river in just a few minutes or even seconds.

For more information on getting ready for floods, check out our Get Ready fact sheet.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

USDA gives us the recipe for food safety

Ask Karen from USDA
Whether you’re throwing steaks on the grill or baking cookies in the oven, food safety is something we all have to think about. And food safety during and after a disaster is even more important. We wanted to know more, so we talked to Marianne Gravely, a food safety specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She told us all about two apps that USDA offers to help us know how to store food and how to eat well in an emergency. And we even got to ask her about the USDA’s #GrillinglikeaPro campaign! Plus, this year is the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Meat and Poultry hotline.

Seriously, though, food safety is really important. Foodborne illnesses sicken about 48 million people in the U.S. every year. We’ve posted our conversation with Gravely and we’re linking you to USDA’s apps so you can take steps to make sure you and your family don’t get sick.

Listen to our podcast with Gravely, and download USDA’s free FoodKeeper app for tips on food storage. Check out the Ask Karen app if you have questions about how to keep your food safe all the time. Bon appetit!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cute animal alert! Prepare for disasters with Get Ready’s Ready, Pet, Go! calendar

Looking for emergency preparedness tips? Need some cute animals to brighten up your home or office? Our Get Ready campaign has you covered.

APHA's Ready, Pet, Go! Get Ready Calendar is now available online for free! The 2016 calendar, which showcases pictures from our photo contest, is full of adorable animals and tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.

We received so many amazing animal photos, but ultimately 16 winners made the 2016 calendar. Each month shows a different animal sharing helpful safety advice. Learn how to protect yourself from disease, where to go during a storm or what to include in your emergency supply kit.

Download and print the calendar today! Check out the winning photos in our animal photo gallery and share them with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter with the #GetReadyPetGo hashtag.

And while you’re on our site, browse some of our runners-up photos and vote for your favorite!

Friday, September 11, 2015

APHA is ready for National Preparedness Month!

APHA’s Get Ready emergency preparedness campaign has lots to do and see this September.

Come see us!
Get Ready Day Google+ Hangout on Air
Sept. 15, 2 p.m. EDT
We are featuring an exceptional panel of experts who will speak about climate change and specifically about wildfires, flooding and vector-borne diseases.  Learn how you can prepare and reduce the risk of harm.

City Center Farmer’s Market
Sept. 15, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Come actually see us in person in Washington, D.C., at the City Center farmers market. Say hello and be sure to pick up some of our fantastic freebies!

Climate Changes Health Webinar
Sept. 16, 1 p.m. EDT
Get information about the CDC’s BRACE (Building Resilience Against Climate Effects) framework and hear about Oregon and Vermont communities that are taking steps to prevent the health threats related to climate change.

Share this!

New Get Ready Infographic

Help prepare your family or community for disasters with our free Get Ready preparedness infographics. Easy to print, post and share!

New Fact Sheet — Get the facts on seasonal flu
By knowing the steps to avoid getting sick, we can have a safer flu season — and you and your family can stay healthy.

Coming Soon…Get Ready video
Ready, Pet, Go! Calendar winners announced
Preparedness quiz
New podcast and preparedness Storify

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Hot weather and flooding? Salmonella could be in the forecast

When you think of salmonella risks, food preparation is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But a recent study shows that salmonella is also associated with heat and flooding — and that it could become worse with climate change.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, found that salmonella infections in people rise on hotter and wetter days in coastal Maryland. People living on the coast have more contact with water and are at a greater risk for floods, which can contain harmful bacteria.

The researchers aren’t sure why there is more salmonella in the coastal area. One factor for the increased infections in Maryland may be the state’s link to the poultry industry — the state produces 300 million broiler chickens every year on its Eastern shore. Waste from poultry operations may contaminate nearby water supplies, the researchers said, including wells people depend on for drinking water. Other studies have suggested that warmer days could be leading to changes in eating habits, such as more people eating improperly cooked food from the grill.

Whatever the cause, salmonella infections are something you don’t want. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. Usually, symptoms last between four and seven days. Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can send you to the hospital.

Luckily, consumers can take steps in their food preparation to help prevent getting sick from the most likely causes of salmonella illness. Some tips:
  • Cook eggs, poultry and ground beef all the way through at a high temperature.
  • Don’t eat raw meat or eggs or drink unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash your hands, utensils and countertops after handling raw meat or eggs.
  • Be extra-careful with food for infants, the elderly and people who are already sick.
  • Wash your hands after handling pets, birds, reptiles or animal feces.
Climate change is expected to cause more heat waves, storms and flooding, so consumers will have to prepare for new risks as well.

Join our Get Ready Day Google+ Hangout on Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. EDT. Our expert speakers will share their perspectives about climate change and speak specifically about wildfires, flooding, and vector-borne diseases.  Learn how you can prepare and reduce the risk of harm.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

When power outages are more than a nuisance

We all know what a power outage is like. We stumble through the dark to find our flashlights. We check how much power is left on our phone. We worry about the food in our fridge and wait for the power to come back on. A bit of a nuisance, but usually not a big deal.

Now imagine you use a medical device that depends on electricity. Losing power could mean life or death. In fact, 2.4 million Medicare recipients depend on electricity to run their medical and assistive equipment, which can include ventilators and wheelchairs. And while many of them have reserve batteries, such people may need help when the power goes out, especially if it’s for a long time.

Luckily, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just released a new tool to help. The HHS emPOWER map tells officials where the highest number of people on Medicare who use medical devices are in their communities. While the map doesn’t capture everyone who uses a device, it helps give planners an idea of how many people may be in need during a power outage. And that way they can plan ahead.

Emergency responders and community planners aren’t the only ones we need to plan ahead for disasters and emergencies. We all need to look out for our neighbors, and getting our communities ready starts with us. Check out what has to say about community preparedness and check out our resources for people with disabilities.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Give it a shot: Share our e-card for National Immunization Awareness Month

We can’t believe it’s August already, but we’re ready for National Immunization Awareness Month.  You probably know something about vaccines, but we all need to make sure we’re up to date. So remind the people you care about with our new e-card, just in time for flu season.

To stay safe and to help keep our communities healthy, it’s important for all of us to be vaccinated. Check out this blog post about how you getting a vaccine can help keep everyone else healthy, too.

For more information, check out our Get Ready vaccination fact sheets for kids, teens and adults. To help promote immunizations in your community, check out this great toolkit.

We’ve all got a part to play in the health of our communities. So roll up your sleeve and send out our new e-card to remind your friends of the importance of vaccinations!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

These people caught measles. Who’s next?

Measles is a very infectious disease. It’s so infectious that just being around someone who has it can make you sick. And you can even get it from the air after they’ve gone.

The measles virus.
Image credit // CDC /
Goldsmith and Bellini
Take the case of two travelers who shared the same Chicago airport gate. One was a 19-month-old child who’d received a first dose of measles vaccine, but got sick with measles while traveling. Another was a 46-year-old adult on a different flight who was diagnosed with measles a few weeks later. Researchers say the adult caught it from the child.

While the child could have passed the illness along anywhere at the airport where the two travelers crossed, researchers think that it probably happened when the child’s family was waiting near the gate to board and the adult traveler exited the plane. Measles can stay in the air for up to two hours, even after an infected person leaves. Luckily, in this case, both patients recovered.

Fast-forward to this spring in Washington state. A very sick woman in Clallam County caught measles while visiting her doctor at a hospital that was treating a patient with measles earlier. The virus stayed in the air of the hospital just like it was in the air at the airport gate. After being around the virus in the hospital, her body was unable to fight it and she died. Her death was the first from measles in 12 years in the United States.
Traveling safe includes staying healthy.
Get vaccinated before you get on board!
Image credit //

Both stories offer us a few reminders:
• To protect others, everyone who can be vaccinated should be. It only takes one sick person to make everyone else sick.
• International travelers ages 12 months and older should have two doses of measles vaccinations. The odds of getting sick go up if you haven’t gotten vaccinated or aren’t fully vaccinated.
• If you think you have measles, don’t go to the doctor’s office. Stay home and call your physician with your symptoms.

Protect yourself and protect others. Get vaccinated.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Down and dirty preparedness: Staying safe from disease at a mud race

Are you tough enough to run a mud race? Events like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Battlefrog show the popularity of mud races. The challenges include a lot of running and obstacles and require a dose of mental grit. Hazards include mud, fire, ice, walls, heights and electricity. And recently, that list of hazards includes infectious disease.
 A Tough Mudder in the "Kiss of Mud" obstacle.
Image credit // Hartmut Goldmann

For example, 1,000 people recently got sick from norovirus, a virus spread in animal and human feces, at a mud race in France.  Participants at mud races in the U.S. have also come down with norovirus and other infections, causing diarrhea, rash, vomiting and other unpleasant symptoms.

Bacteria and viruses don’t really care how big your muscles are. A lot of mud races are held on farms or in the woods. And since they’re in rural areas, there may be wild animals and livestock. Feces and urine can get mixed into the dirt and mud. When participants get in the mud or when they touch their faces after, microorganisms can be transmitted and make them sick.

Still think you’re tough enough?  Alright. Here are some tips to stay safe.

First off, know what you’re up against. Ask race officials about safety and what’s being done to keep it (relatively) clean out there. Know where to go for medical help if you need it. There’s more to worry about than bacteria. Sprains, cuts and more might be in store for you.

"Funkey Monkey."
Image credit // Tough Mudder
Second, keep your head up if you can. Don’t touch your face with your muddy hands if you can avoid it. Try to keep your mouth away from the mud. We know it’s tempting to get a face-full and take a really cool photo. But is it worth the risk?

Third, hold on tight. On obstacles like Tough Mudder’s Funkey Monkey, where you’ll be crossing monkey bars over a pool of muddy water, your best bet is not to fall off. Sound too tough for you? Keep your hands close to the edges of the bars, right where they meet the wood or metal frame. You’ll get a better grip that way.

Fourth, if you don’t feel safe, skip the obstacle. There’s no shame in staying safe. Some races like Battlefrog require you to complete all obstacles, but most are fairly chill. Do some research beforehand and make sure you’re up to the challenge.

Lastly, help each other out! Giving your course mates a hand, even if they are complete strangers, helps everyone stay safe and builds community.

Have a blast, and push yourself to overcome all fear!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Herd immunity. Heard of it?

August is National Immunization Awareness Month!  Watch out for more updates on vaccines coming soon! 

Image credit // Toby Amodeo
You probably know that vaccines protect your body from catching a disease. Many people get vaccinated to protect themselves. But did you also know that getting vaccinated could protect your friends, family and even strangers in your community as well?

Getting vaccinated doesn’t just prevent you from getting sick. It also stops you from spreading a disease to your friends and family. The same goes for other people. If your neighbors get vaccinated, it will keep them and those around them safe as well. If your entire block gets vaccinated, it will protect those people and people on the next block over. And if a whole lot more people get vaccinated, that’s when the “herd” idea comes in.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that herd immunity, also known as community immunity, is when the majority of people in a community get vaccinated. 

Image credit // CDC / Judy Schmidt
People who get vaccinated are also protecting people who can’t get vaccinated, like newborns or those whose immune systems don’t work well. The more people who get vaccinated, the safer everyone else will be.

Everyone can play a role in improving their health and those around them by getting vaccinated.  Check out our free Get Ready fact sheet on vaccinations here!

Protect your community and join the herd!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Here’s what you can do to stay healthy as the climate changes

Lots of people are talking about climate change and the things it can do to our health. But did you know that you can prepare for it — and stop it from ruining your summer?

Image credit // National Resource Defense Council
We love summer. Thanks to our summer safe tips, we’re prepared for the worst things and enjoy the best things, like playing outside, eating snow cones and building sandcastles.

But last year, the National Resource Defense Council shared a list of things they don’t like about summer, like heat waves, poor air quality and mosquitoes. Unfortunately, climate change makes all of those things worse. And that’s not healthy.

There is good news, though: We can protect ourselves.

If you live in a hot place, you can stay safe by doing a few things before and during a really hot day. Make sure you drink plenty of water, find somewhere with air conditioning and take cool showers to lower your body heat. Here are more suggestions from our heat wave fact sheet.

Photo credit // CDC / James Gathany
Hate being bit by mosquitoes? You can protect yourself by using bug spray, getting rid of water from that has collected in flower points or trash cans around your neighborhood and wearing clothing that fully covers your arms, legs and feet. Here are more things you can do to stay even safer from mosquito bites.

We’ve got tips to protect you no matter where you live. You can stay safe from hurricanes or floods, keep your food and water safe during an emergency, and protect yourself when you’re in a big crowd of people. Here’s a full page of facts you can use to stay safe and healthy in emergencies.

Now go have as much fun as you can this summer!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weddings: a celebration of love, joy and public health

Yes, you read that right! And if you’re thinking we’re trying to nerd-ify your wedding, think again. Don’t believe us? Check out our Pinterest board on public health wedding ideas. We’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, let’s talk. Why would you think about public health at a wedding?
For starters, this summer is going to be full of millennials tying the knot. They are living in a world altered by climate change. They’ll raise their kids with the emerging public health threats in mind. So it makes sense they have health in mind when planning their future.

But public health weddings aren’t just for the young folks. Our tips are good for brides and grooms of

all ages — and for all budgets.

Try out some summer fruits for snacks
during  your reception!
Photo credit //
Incorporating public health into your wedding can be as simple as including a vegetarian meal option. Small decisions can help any wedding support public health. Recycled wedding dresses and locally grown flowers are just some of the ways you can create a health-conscious wedding.

You can also incorporate public health preparedness into your wedding. If you’re handing out keepsakes to guests, consider things that will help them be ready for a disaster, like flashlights, whistles and paper fans. What wedding guest wouldn’t want a mini first-aid kit with the happy couple’s name embossed on it? The next time your guests are safely treating a scrape, they’ll have you to thank.

These ideas won’t just help you pull off that hipster vibe. They’ll also introduce your guests to new foods, new activities and new ways of thinking. Go ahead. Be “that hipster couple.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Summer Safe: Getting ready for Lyme disease

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. But the summer is also when there are the most ticks. Ticks are tiny insects that bite people and animals for their blood. Many can carry diseases. One of these diseases is Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause serious symptoms, but with a few simple steps it’s easy to stay safe.
Image credit // CDC;
James Gathany

Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and Midwest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but cases have been reported in almost every state. The best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid tick bites. Ticks like to live in moist, long grass, so keep your yard cut short. If you’re in the woods, stay in the center of trails and avoid bushy areas.

Wearing light-colored clothing when going outside can make ticks more visible. Be sure to use EPA-approved insect repellent with at least 20-30 percent DEET. After you’re outdoors, make sure and do a tick check and shower.

If you do get bit, you should remove the tick quickly. Find a pair of tweezers and grab the tick firmly as close to the skin as possible. Don’t grab the body, as it could tear off and leave some of the tick inside your skin. Begin pulling straight out. Don’t jerk or twist the tick. Once it’s out, wash the bite with plenty of soap and water. Tell your doctor about it. If you can, save the tick and have it tested for Lyme disease.  If a piece breaks off and stays inside you, have it removed as soon as possible.

Removing a tick
Lyme disease causes a lot of different symptoms. It sometimes starts with a red bull’s eye rash around the bite. Then, it can cause fatigue, joint swelling and flu-like symptoms. Without treatment, Lyme disease can cause joint and nerve problems. Fortunately, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics when caught early. But the longer it takes to find out you have it, the harder it is to treat.

Just because there are ticks outside doesn’t mean you should stay indoors. A few simple steps can keep you safe. Get outside and enjoy the summer!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Star-spangled preparedness

Summer. Charcoal. Fireworks. Freedom. 
You know what that means: It’s almost the Fourth of July! It looks like it’s going to be a hot one this year in many parts of the country.  Before you head out to celebrate, take a minute to think about how to do it safely.

Photo credit:
Know where you’re going and how long the event will last. Many events don’t allow coolers inside the grounds, so think about where you’re going to get food and water. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Also, be sure to bring insect repellents.  Hot summer nights are a mosquito’s delight.  Make sure to protect yourself from becoming their source of food.

Fourth of July celebrations can get hot, and you might spend a lot of time in the sun. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. When you think you’ve had enough, keep going. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you quickly. If you do plan to drink alcohol, have a plan to get home safely. As in, hand over the keys.

If you’ve got kids, make sure you keep them close if you’re going to be in a crowd. Pick a spot to meet up as a family in case you are separated. Know where to go in case there is an emergency. If you or anyone you’re with starts to feel sick or dizzy, ask for help. Find an event official or head to the first-aid area. You know where it is, since you found it as soon as you arrived, right?

Photo courtesy:
Remember, everyone loves to celebrate freedom. Crowds can get big and overwhelming. Having a plan and knowing how to stay calm are the best ways to be safe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find a spot away from the crowds and take a break.

And lastly, be careful with fireworks. Yes, they’re really cool. Like these! But they’re also dangerous. They literally run on gunpowder. The stuff that makes things go bang. Remember that before you light the fuse. Have a source of water nearby. Make sure anyone nearby knows when you’re lighting them, and keep people back at a safe distance.

Alright, you’re about ready to celebrate! Check out our mass event fact sheet for a few extra safety tips before you head out. Grab a bottle of water and a hat, and throw a few more hot dogs on the grill. We’ll be over soon (what, didn’t we tell you you’re hosting?)! Happy Fourth of July! 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

Today's post is by Hannah d'Entremont, a public relations and political science students at West Virginia University.  She's also one of APHA's summer interns!

Do you remember how bad Hurricane Katrina was? What about Hurricane Sandy? Both hurricanes — which hit New Orleans and the northeast U.S., respectively — caused a lot of damage. They also caused many preventable injuries and deaths.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic began on June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Hurricanes can be dangerous and life-threatening. So it’s important to understand ways to stay safe.

Hurricanes are rated on a scale of one through five, with one being the weakest and five being the strongest. Sandy made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, and Katrina was a Category 3 when it hit Louisiana. But all hurricanes are dangerous, no matter their category. Strong winds and debris can cause damage to people, homes and communities.
Super-storm Sandy making landfall in the United States.
Photo credit: Rob Gutro,
Goddard Space Flight Center

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that this year’s hurricane season should include six to 11 named storms, three to six of which should become hurricanes. With that in mind, it makes sense to be prepared. Learn about your community’s hurricane warning system, evacuation routes and nearby hurricane shelters. (You should also know these things if you’re vacationing in an area at-risk for hurricanes.) Make a plan with your family. Write down emergency phone numbers and identify a meeting place in case you have to evacuate in a hurry and all family members are not together. Never ignore evacuation orders.

You should also have supplies such as food, water, medicine, safety items, personal care products and an emergency kit for your car packed and ready to go. Include paper maps in your kit in case electricity and cellphones aren’t working. Fill up your gas tank in advance if a storm is predicted to head your way.

For more hurricane tips, check out our Get Ready fact sheet on hurricanes.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Guest blog: There’s no “I” in team: Helping prepare your community for a disaster with CERT training

Today’s guest blog is by Mighty Fine, MPH, deputy director of APHA’s Center for Professional Development, Public Health Systems and Partnerships.

Photo credit: Toby Amodeo
As a member of APHA’s Get Ready team, I’m well aware of the importance of emergency preparedness. I’m not wishing for a disaster, but if one came, I’d be ready.

However, I haven’t paid close attention to the preparedness needs of my local Washington, D.C., community. So I decided to get more involved by participating in a free Community Emergency Response Team training.

Participating in this 20-hour course was a great way for me to learn basic disaster response skills and relief. The course consisted of eight units, addressing topics such as fire safety, terrorism, preparedness and psychology.

We watched informative videos, interacted with first responders, reviewed case studies and participated in demonstrations. All of our activities were done in small teams, which highlighted the importance of working together during a disaster.

The training was truly a hands-on learning experience. I rolled up my sleeves and really got into it. We learned how to make a splint to support an injured limb, which is a critical skill during an emergency, especially if supplies are limited.

We were also taught how to extinguish a fire. We learned the acronym PASS, which stands for “Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Spray.” By remembering these steps I’ll always know the proper way to use a fire extinguisher.

After taking this course I feel better positioned to help my community respond effectively to an emergency. CERT trainings are offered in communities around the U.S.  Once you’ve completed a training, you can even join a local CERT program to assist first responders in relief efforts.

Check out a training near you so you can help your community be more prepared, too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Census Bureau graphic shows Americans have room for improvement on preparedness

If disaster strikes tomorrow, where would you get your water? Nearly half of all Americans would be in trouble if their water supply was cut off in an emergency.

That’s a finding from the 2013 American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development. The survey results, released in March, found only 54 percent of Americans have a three-day supply of water in their home.

To raise awareness, the Census Bureau released a new infographic this month showing just how ready — or not — Americans are for emergencies.
Among the survey’s findings: Only about half of Americans have an emergency evacuation kit prepared, and just 37 percent have an emergency plan for dealing with disaster. No one likes to think it could happen to us. But the truth is that floods, tornadoes, diseases and more can affect all of our lives.

But the Census Bureau graphic shows that it’s not all bad news. When it comes to having food around, we’re doing really well. And a lot of our houses are clearly numbered. That makes it easier for emergency responders to find us when we need help.

It might look like a lot to think about, but it’s much easier to get ready now than during a disaster. With that in mind, here’s a checklist to help build your emergency stockpile!

Measuring America: How Ready Are We?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summertime fun means being summer safe

Summer officially begins next week on June 21. It’s a great time to get outside and get active. Whether you’re scoring winning goals on the beach or climbing mountains with friends, knowing how to be prepared during summer is helpful.

Photo courtesy of
It’s already heating up out there. Summer sun can bring sunburn, dehydration and more. Make sure you find a way to stay cool, whether that means sitting in the shade or taking a break in an air-conditioned building. Drink a lot of water, too.

Summer can also bring some extreme weather, like hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. Whether you are at home or on vacation, know the risks in your area. Keep an eye on the news and know where to go in case there is an emergency.

Summertime can do more than change the weather. Ticks and mosquitoes love the higher temps. You’re outside, they’re outside. Grab some bug spray. Make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET, and do a tick check when you get inside. Ticks and mosquitoes can carry some unpleasant diseases.  Trust us, you don’t want to know what they’re like.

And don’t forget: power outages are pretty common in summer. If there is a weather disaster in your area, check with your water company to make sure your water is safe to drink after. Keep your emergency stockpile up to date. You’ve got one of those, right? If you don’t, here’s a list to get you started.

Check out all of our Summer Safe fact sheets for more info. Simply knowing what to do and what to watch for can keep you safe. Now that you’ve got all that, get outside and enjoy the summer!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Get Ready podcast: Creating healthy, safe homes

We spend a lot of time at home. So it’s important to make sure that the places we live are safe. It starts with where our houses are built and how they are made. That’s why we need to know and understand local health threats before we build. If people know the risks common to their area, it’s easier to build to help guard against them.

Still, homes that have health problems are located all over the U.S. Many put people in contact with health threats like radon, lead and more.

In our new podcast, APHA’s Get Ready campaign spoke with Dr. Warren Friedman, senior advisor to the director at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, to learn more about making safe homes.

PHIL Image 19316
CDC // Theresa Roebuck
Dr. Friedman’s office targets the roots of these problems. Instead of just cleaning up, they figure out where and how the problem starts.

Even with good preparation though, emergencies happen. Dr. Freidman noted that we learn a lot of lessons after disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. He said as we rebuild affected communities we take those lessons to reduce the consequences of future disasters.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development is using what we’ve learned to come up with better ways to prepare and respond, and to help federal and local governments work together to keep us all safer.

To hear more about resilient communities, listen to our newest Get Ready Report.  And check out our new home safety infographic for more ways to make your home safe!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Can we beat the heat?

Today's Guest Blog is from Allison Crimmins, an environmental scientist with EPA’s Climate Change Division. She focuses on the impacts and risks associated with climate change, especially on human health. Prior to joining EPA, she earned one Masters degree in oceanography by exploring past climates in ocean sediments and a second Masters’ degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She lives, works, and judges the occasional science fair in Washington, D.C. but still cheers for the Chicago Bears.

See how recorded temperatures have risen in the
United States in since 1901 / U.S. EPA
I have an uncle in Arizona who likes to send taunting emails in the middle of winter, bragging about his region’s warm temperatures while my Midwestern family freezes. The tables would be turned in summer, and he’d get his share of emails when Arizona’s temperatures soared. Lately though, the rate of warming in the Midwest has accelerated, with temperatures rising three times as fast between 1980 and 2010 than the long-term temperature increase . With extremely hot days—the kind we’re used to seeing once in 20 years—projected to become commonplace across the U.S., there won’t be many places in the country left with bragging rights.

Heat waves have become more frequent and more intense, especially in the West, and they’re expected to become more intense across the entire U.S. Aside from making us miserable, heat waves can also make us very sick. Extreme heat is associated with increased hospital visits for cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory disorders, and can also lead to an increased number of deaths from heat stroke and other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The health risks from heat are heightened in cities, where the urban heat island effect can intensify temperatures. Cities can be up to 10°F warmer than surrounding rural areas and can maintain warmer temperatures throughout the night. With more people moving to urban areas and nighttime temperatures rising faster than daytime temperatures, there’s a lot of people who can’t catch a break from the heat.

It might be easy to think this is an issue that affects “other people,” but not me. Those most vulnerable to extreme heat include children, the elderly, people who work or exercise outdoors, pregnant women, some communities of color, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Extreme heat affects people living in cities, but also people in rural areas that haven’t needed air conditioning in the past. It affects people in Arizona, the Midwest, and everywhere in between. When you look back at that list, it’s evident that we all fit into one or more of those categories, at least at some point in our lives.

The good news is that heat related deaths and illnesses are preventable and there is a lot of great information out there to help beat the heat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has great resources on extreme heat and hot weather tips.

In addition to preparing for the heat, it’s also important to take action on climate change to help reduce these threats. EPA is taking a number of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including cutting carbon pollution from existing power plants, setting standards to increase fuel efficiency for all new cars and trucks sold through 2025, and working closely with the private sector to promote programs like ENERGY STAR, which helps Americans save money and improves the energy-efficiency of their appliances, homes, and businesses. To learn more about what EPA is doing to address climate change, please see:

You can also take action on climate change! Since everyone uses energy, everyone can be part of the solution. To learn about simple steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint, see One of the best ways to make a difference, in my opinion, is just to share what you learn about climate change with friends and family. A good place to learn more about observed and projected climate impacts where you live is:

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Getting Ready for Floods

We’ve all seen the tragic news about the flooding in Texas and on the Plains. More than 20 people have lost their lives in the state and in Oklahoma since last weekend with others missing and many homes and businesses across the area destroyed.

Floods can happen anywhere and at times we don’t expect. We all need to know how to prepare. With a little effort, we can all be ready for floods.
Photo: Bob McMillan // FEMA Photo

Getting ready starts before the first drop of rain. Floods can happen even if they haven’t hit your area before, according to Check with your city or town to see if there is a plan in place in case of floods.

When there is a risk of a flood, it’s always important to listen to authorities. Make sure to have a battery-powered radio to listen for updates in case you lose power. Local leaders will keep you posted with the news. They’ll also let you know if you need to head to higher ground or if you should stay put.

Floods can contaminate your tap water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that flood waters can carry dangerous chemicals and bacteria, so make sure you have plenty of clean, safe bottled water. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends having at least a three-day supply of food and water for your entire house.

Have an emergency stockpile for home stored somewhere it will be safe if waters rise. Keep a bag full of supplies such as flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, medications and non-perishable food, in case you have to leave quickly. If you have canned food, make sure to include a manual can opener.
Photo: Bob McMillan // FEMA Photo

After the flood, make sure your house is safe before going back in. Watch out for mosquitoes that live near standing water. Talk to your family or a friend if you feel stressed or anxious.

Floods are scary, but with the right preparation we can all stay safe. For more ways to prepare, check out our floods fact sheet on the Get Ready campaign website.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Blog invitado: Preparacíon marca la diferencia

Marcela Campoli, MHA, blog invitado de hoy, es una consultora negocios en Washington, D.C. Tiene experiencia en la preparación para emergencias y trabajando con los promotores de salud en la salud comunitaria y prevención. Campoli es un miembro del Comité de Igualdad de Oportunidades de la Salud de APHA.

Preparacíon puede ser la diferencia entre la vida y la muerte en un caso de desastre; sin embargo para muchos no es tan fácil llevar la teoría a la práctica, especialmente en el devenir diario de las actividades cotidianas.

La Agencia Federal de Manejo de Emergencias sugieren:

  •  Informarse sobre los peligros y emergencias que pueden afectarlo a usted y a su familia y mantenerse informado: Vivimos en una comunidad que elegimos conscientemente por su seguridad, por sus vecinos, por las escuelas, y por muchas tantas razones; sin embargo vivimos en un mundo globalizado donde los riesgos pueden alcanzarnos de muchas y variadas maneras, incluyendo derrames de materiales peligrosos, accidentes aéreos y descarrilamiento de trenes.

 Es necesario ser realista en los riesgos a los que estamos expuestos y mantener una línea de comunicación diaria con la realidad comunitaria y social a través de las noticias.

  • Elaborar un plan de emergencia: El dicho dice “prepárate para lo peor y espera lo mejor,” pero ¿para qué pensar en un tsunami cuando no vivimos cerca del mar? Por ello, el plan debe incluir esas posibles emergencias que puedan afectarnos a algunos o a todos los miembros de la familia. La lista puede empezar con aquellas a las que ya se han visto expuestos, directa o indirectamente en el pasado — tormentas de nieve en invierno, huracanes en verano, olas de calor en verano o inundaciones.

Una vez identificados los riesgos potenciales, es necesario escribir un plan con los pasos a seguir en cada situación, y comunicarlo a todos los que pueden estar involucrados, incluyendo familiares y maestros de los niños.

  • Reunir y organizar un equipo de suministros para desastre: Comprar los suministros necesarios cuando las señales de alerta han comenzado, se convierte en una pesadilla rápidamente. Por lo que es importante tener una reserva de alimentos no perecederos almacenados, agua embotellada,  lámparas, radios, bolsas de dormir, ropa de acuerdo al clima y aquellos artículos de uso específico de la familia, como medicina. Las mascotas son parte de la familia, es necesario tener reservas para ellos también.

Al preparar los suministros, es importante mantener en el auto, una mochila — impermeable en lo posible — con una porción de mismos suministros mencionados con anterioridad. Es importante recordar los documentos importantes y dinero en efectivo. Siempre es bueno hacer una lista adicional de aquellas cosas que es necesario recoger a último momento.

  • Saber dónde buscar refugio para protegerse de todo tipo de riesgos: Al hacer la lista de los posibles refugios a los que acudir en el barrio o la comunidad, es conveniente que tenga al menos dos teléfonos y direcciones de amigos y familiares fuera del estado, en caso de una evacuación.
  • Identificar los sistemas de advertencia y las rutas de evacuación en su comunidad: Debo conseguir mensajes de texto de alerta en el celular y correos electrónicos en la computadora. Muchos gobiernos locales lo ofrecen gratis. Recorra su barrio e identifique las rutas demarcadas de fácil salida del área. Considere que tipo de transporte que utlizaría.
  • Incluir en su plan la información requerida de los planes comunitarios y escolares. Determinar un lugar y hora de encuentro para facilitar la evacuación conjunta.
  • Practicar y mantener su plan: Realizar un simulacro y que en él participen los niños es fundamental para entender si el plan funciona, ya que algunas acciones pueden corregirse y aprenderse de manera de reaccionar naturalmente durante la emergencia. Lo más importante es entender que ante una situación de emergencia es necesario conservar la calma.

Preparacíon puede ser la diferencia entre la vida y la muerte en caso de una emergencia, sin embargo es necesario fomentar la cultura de la protección civil entre los miembros de la familia y la comunidad — y esta es una tarea diaria.

Para obtener más información, visita nuestra hojas informativas de Get Ready. Lea este publicacíon en inglés en el Get Ready Blog de APHA.