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!