Saturday, December 15, 2018

Preparedness furrrr all! Download APHA’s 2019 Get Ready Calendar

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Time for your new Get Ready calendar! The latest edition of our annual preparedness calendar is available and it’s loaded with cuteness.

From fuzzy pups to huggable gorillas, our calendar has adorableness covered. Each month also features helpful information on disaster and emergency preparedness from Get Ready.

Photographers submitted hundreds of photos in our annual contest. And though we wanted to share them all, we had to narrow it down to just a few cutetastic pics for the calendar.

Print a copy for your refrigerator, your bulletin board and your cubicle. They even make great stocking stuffers!

Once you’ve printed your copies, share the link on social media and on your website so that others can enjoy the adorableness year-round.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Winter's on its way. Get ready for the season now!

Winter storms occur every year, bringing icy roads, cold temperatures and other dangers with them. While some storms are mild, others can result in a shutdown of major services, power outages and even loss of life.  

Science shows that there’s more at play than just Jack Frost nipping at our nose here. Climate change can make winter storms more severe and last longer. 

As the oceans warm, parts of the U.S. will continue to see more extreme winter weather. This winter’s U.S. forecast calls for blasts of cold air in the southern Plains states, big storms in Mid-Atlantic states and really cold temperatures in January and February in the Northeast. Brrr!

Before you make like a bear and hunker down inside for the winter, there are a few steps you should take to make sure that you are safe and prepared for a winter storm.

• Prepare an emergency kit that includes a first-aid kit, flashlight, batteries and other important items you and your family will need during a storm.  Include a solar- or battery-operated cellphone charger in your supplies.

• Weatherize your home by making sure it is well-insulated to prevent cold air from coming in.

• Prepare your car by checking your tires, brakes and car heater. Make sure your car’s emergency supplies are up to date, including food, water and blankets.

If you have to go out during or after a storm:
• Drive during the day to avoid traveling on black ice in the dark.

• Bundle up! Wear warm clothes, gloves, hats and scarves. 

• Walk carefully on sidewalks and crosswalks to avoid injury from slipping and falling.

Get more tips in our winter storms fact sheet, and check out our "winter ready" page for even more tools to read and share.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Los Angeles prepared for disaster by building resilience. Your community can too.

From wildfires and earthquakes to storms and floods, Los Angeles is no stranger to disaster. In fact, the region is at risk for 13 of 16 possible federally identified natural and human-caused threats. To help the community better prepare for and rebound from an emergency, officials developed a plan to strengthen its resilience.

The Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience project connected the county’s disaster plans with the community. It identified the needs of the residents and the resources available in the community. It also considered the needs of residents who are most at risk, and helped community members learn to work together in the event of an emergency.

The project, led by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, first focused on developing relationships with local hospitals, health clinics, faith-based groups, businesses and other organizations. These partnerships helped spread the message of preparedness to community members.

Officials then looked at educating residents to make sure people in the area know what to do in case of an emergency. Some information was distributed by staff but more tools were available online. 

And, finally, the project focused on hands-on activities. For example, leaders developed toolkits tailored to each region in the county. The toolkits contained a range of resources including information on how to build resilience by creating community coalitions, role-playing exercises to facilitate conversations about resilience among community members, quizzes that test a community’s readiness, mapping exercises to locate resilience resources and surveys to help identify community needs.

If Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S., can become more resilient in the face of an emergency, your community can too.

For starters, learn what disasters your county is prone to. The Washington Post mapped out eight of the largest disaster categories according to which area of the country they affect the most.

APHA’s Get Ready fact sheets can help educate your residents, campus or workplace about preparing for emergencies. They work well as tools to help plan your own community disaster resilience project.

But don’t wait for an emergency to strike. Follow the script from L.A. and help your community become more resilient now!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cooking for the clan this week? Watch out for fires!

Roasted turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing on the side are many people’s Thanksgiving favorites, but it can be tricky getting all that food together safely. With all the hubbub, Thanksgiving sometimes brings an unwanted guest: fire.

Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home cooking fires, followed by the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. In 2015 alone, fire departments across the country recorded a total of about 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day.

To keep your meal from going up in flames, brush up on these quick tips.

Before you start cooking, take some time to test the batteries in your smoke detector. Check that your fire extinguisher hasn’t expired and is in an easy-to-reach location.

Before using the stove, clean off residual grease and tuck in any loose clothing you’re wearing. Keep any kitchen items that can catch fire — like paper towels, plastic bags or cookbooks — away from the stove. Be sure to use a flame-resistant mitt when reaching to get the food you worked so hard to cook out of the oven.

With all the commotion of guests arriving, it’s easy to get distracted, but you should never leave your stove unattended. Something could quickly spark while you are away. Keep an eye on the kiddos and tell them not to play near the stove.

There’s an even higher risk for fire if you’re frying your turkey. If you choose this method, make sure your turkey is completely thawed ahead of time. Don’t overfill the fryer and never ever leave it unattended. If you see oil begin to smoke, turn off the gas supply immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving and safe cooking!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

5 ways to be more prepared from Get Ready

You can never be too prepared. And thanks to five new fact sheets, APHA’s Get Ready campaign can help you, your family and community be even more ready for the worst.

Check out these awesome new resources, online now:
• Our new fact sheet on “go-bags” will help you learn why you need them and what to pack inside. You’ll also learn why it’s important to keep your emergency go-bags up to date.
• In the case of a sudden disaster, help may not come right away. Our new general preparedness fact sheet has information on what you need to know to be prepared for many different types of disasters.
• A few days of no rain isn’t so bad. But sometimes droughts are so severe that they turn into an emergency. Learn how to prepare for a drought and what to do when one is happening in your community.
• You can get your family involved in preparedness too. Our stockpiling with kids fact sheet shows easy ways children can help gather emergency supplies and make them feel ready for disasters.
• If you had to drop everything and evacuate right now, would you be ready? Our  new evacuation fact sheet helps you plan where to go, what to bring and how to prepare.

Get Ready fact sheets are perfect for sharing on campus, at the office, in the community or at home. There’s even space to add your logo.

For the full lineup of fact sheets from Get Ready, including Spanish-language versions, check out our website.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Think winter storms are bad now? Wait’ll you hear about the Great Blizzard of 1888

If you live somewhere like New York or Michigan, you may think you know everything about winter storms. But do you remember the big one that happened back in ’88? No, not 1988. We’re talking 1888.

The Great Blizzard of 1888 was one of the biggest and deadliest winter storms in U.S. history. Powerful blizzards and hurricane-level winds tore through the East Coast in March, piling as much as 50 inches of snow over streets, offices and homes. Transportation came to a halt, leaving thousands of people stranded in the cold and stopping deliveries of fresh food and coal that was used to heat homes. The storm killed more than 400 people, some of whom froze to death on their way home from work.

Major winter storms aren’t a thing of the past. In fact, they’ve become more frequent and intense in recent decades. Some states that usually don’t get very cold have been caught off guard by wintry weather. In January 2017, a blizzard dumped up to eight inches of snow in states such as Alabama and Georgia.

Part of the reason the Great Blizzard was so deadly was that weather forecasting wasn’t all that great during this time. People had no warnings and no time to stock up on food and fuel. Thankfully, with today’s thermometers, barometers, anemometers and a variety of other -ometers, we can predict and prepare for winter weather in advance. This winter is expected to get really cold in many parts of the U.S. around January or February, for example.   

So how should you get ready for a winter storm? For starters, assemble an emergency supply kit. In case the power goes out, make sure you have extra blankets, coats and a battery- or solar-operated cellphone charger. Prepare your home by making sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Learn more about getting ready for winter storms with our fact sheet.

Photo credit:
Photo of Great Blizzard in New York City, March 12, 1888. Courtesy NOAA Photo Library, National Weather Service Collection.   

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Say boo! to the flu with our new Halloween graphics

It’s Halloween, and you know what that means: It’s time for costumes, spooky decorations, trick-or-treating and public health preparedness messages!

OK, maybe that last one is not so traditional. But it’s a tradition here at the Get Ready campaign.

To build on the Halloween fun and promote flu vaccinations, we’ve released two new shareable graphics. They’re perfect for posting on Facebook, Twitter and other social media or emailing to friends and family. You can even print them and hang them on the door to greet trick-or-treaters and their parents.

Share our skeleton and spider web graphics now, and check out the other graphics in our Halloween lineup.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Get ready to look back: Fire alarms

A fire alarm in Massachusetts. (Photo by
Erik Hansen, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons) 
You’re jarred awake by mechanical horns and flashing strobe lights. People file out of the building to a designated meeting spot, where someone takes a head count. Between school and work, we all know the characteristics of a modern-day fire alarm and how to respond when it goes off: Calmly evacuate the building, leave your personal belongings behind and never re-enter the building until given the thumbs-up from an emergency responder. But fire alarms didn’t always operate like this — step back in time with APHA as we look back on fire safety!

Flash back to 1658. As the colony of New Amsterdam began to grow, so did the risk of major fires. Wood buildings and thatched roofs were still somewhat prevalent, so it didn’t take much more than a cooking accident to set your house ablaze. Recognizing this, the governor set up the “Rattle Watch” — literally eight citizens that patrolled the streets at night with wooden rattles, with instructions to sound them off and alert the townspeople if they detected fire. Can you imagine if this was the system in place today? As wild as it seems, that same colony, New Amsterdam, would later be renamed New York. America’s early fire alarms, the Rattle Watch, are at least partially to thank for the sprawling metropolis of Manhattan!

When this system became inadequate, cites built bell-towers to sound the alarm, and eventually developed more sophisticated methods. In the 1850s, Boston installed the first telegraph-based alarm system that connected government buildings, churches and schools to the fire department. An automated version of this followed in the 1890s. By the early-mid 1900s, scientists and engineers were patenting heat sensors and smoke detectors, the main components of the modern fire alarm. In 1980s, the first legislation requiring smoke detectors in homes was passed and implemented.
Today, fire alarms are more sensitive and accurate than ever, and play a huge role in keeping us ready in the event of a fire. Remember to treat every fire alarm like the real deal and stay calm! Make sure to Get Ready with these tips from the National Fire Protection Agency:
  • Know the fire exits, and discuss an evacuation plan.
  • Have a designated meeting spot!
  • If you know that someone is still inside the building, tell a first responder. 
  • Never re-enter the building until you’re told it’s safe. 
Let’s be thankful that our alarms run on lithium batteries, and not tired people walking around with rattles!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Get Ready looks back: biggest earthquake in history

Imagine you’re going to work like any other day. All of a sudden the ground starts to shake. The buildings around you start to sway. And you realize what is happening: earthquake!

An earthquake is a type of natural disaster caused by the shifting of underground rock. It cannot be predicted, and can cause a little or a lot of damage in just a few seconds. For a brief look at the destructive power of quakes, let’s rewind to 1960 in Chile, when the worst recorded earthquake in history occurred.

On Saturday, May 21, 1960, Chileans were preparing for the traditional commemoration of the Battle of Iquique, a naval battle against Peru back in the 19th century. Suddenly around 6 a.m., the earth began to rapidly shake in the town of Concepción. After just a few minutes, 125 people had died from the 8.3 magnitude earthquake. A third of the city was ruined, and as emergency responders tried to help, the massive aftershocks of the earthquake began, the strongest having a magnitude of 7.9 the next day

But the worst was yet to come. Just minutes later, the next aftershock resulted in two separate 8.6 magnitude events. This triggered a massive tsunami washing away villages and resulting in landslides that completely destroyed towns. The earthquake in Chile was calculated with a moment magnitude of 9.5, making it the largest earthquake ever documented. In all, more than 1,500 people perished, thousands more were injured and millions were left homeless.

Today, Chile has a national strategy for preparing for earthquakes. The nation has an advanced alert system that can inform citizens through television, radio, email, phones and digital roadside billboards. They even have evacuation routes marked to help citizens if one strikes.

Chile and other places prone to earthquakes have taken huge steps to prepare and respond. Japan, for example, has reconstructed buildings according to seismic calculations and installed sensors that monitor seismic activity 24/7. In Indonesia, educating the public about basic survival and emergency response has helped them be better prepared for when disaster strikes.

If an earthquake happens in your area, stay calm and make sure you’re prepared with these tips from APHA:
Have an emergency plan and a place to meet up with your family.
Have an emergency stockpile and first-aid kit.
If you’re inside, drop to the ground, cover yourself with something sturdy like a piece of furniture, and hold on until the earthquake ends.
After the earthquake, double-check that buildings are safe to enter and listen to the news for updates.

We’ve come far in how we deal with earthquakes and although the earth might shake sometimes, let’s do our part to help ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Wildfires are bad this year, and they’re expected to get worse

As U.S. droughts and heat reach their highest level in years in many parts of the country, we’re also seeing more of another serious threat: wildfires.

California is facing one of its worst wildfire seasons, with thousands of buildings destroyed and about a dozen deaths. But it’s not just California that’s suffering.

During the first six months of 2018 alone, federal officials counted almost 38,000 fires that burned 4.8 million acres of land. And with the changing U.S. climate, wildfires are expected to worsen. A recent study shows that by 2100, deaths from wildfire smoke could double.

Most wildfires are caused by humans. So preventing them is key, no matter where you live. If you ever light a fire or match, always make sure that they are completely extinguished. Keep water nearby if burning debris, fireworks or anything flammable.

It’s also important to be personally prepared for wildfires. In general, you should:
• Know your evacuation route. Include a meeting place and a contact person. Pay attention to evacuation orders and never hesitate if told to leave.
• Put together an evacuation kit that you can take with you at a moment’s notice. Make sure it includes a battery-operated radio, flashlight, bottled water, first-aid kit, cellphone chargers, important documents and medications.
• If you’re in a car and see a wildfire, stay in your car. Don’t try to outrun the fire on foot. Roll up your car windows and close the vents. Drive slowly and keep your headlights on. If you have to stop, park away from heavy brush and vegetation.

For more tips, see our Get Ready fact sheet. Stay safe and informed about wildfires and remember that the safest wildfire is one that never starts.

Photo caption: A man searches for belongings in a Rancho Bernardo, California, home destroyed by wildfires in 2007. FEMA Photo by Andrea Booher 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

It’s time for your child to get their flu shot

Last season, more than 80,000 Americans died of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the highest number in at least four decades.
And, unfortunately, 180 of those deaths were children.

Having the flu is terrible for anyone. But for kids under age 5, and especially those under age 2, flu can be really dangerous. They can get pneumonia, dehydration and ear infections, and if they have asthma or other health conditions, they could be at greater risk.

But it’s not just young kids that are a concern. Even older, healthy children can die suddenly of flu. Eighty percent of the kids who died last season from the flu weren’t vaccinated.

If you’re a parent or caregiver — or anyone who loves children — hearing about this can be upsetting. But living through it is even worse. Here’s what it boils down to: Getting a flu shot is easy. It can save your child’s life. Now is the time to get one.

Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get their flu shot every year. It’s important that you get one too. That way you can help protect both yourself and people who can’t be vaccinated, including young children.

For more info on flu and kids, including questions on vaccines, see CDC’s website. And check out this fun Ready Wrigley book for games, coloring pages and more for your child.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Get Ready infographic shares tips on flooding

As people in North Carolina and nearby states found out recently, flooding can quickly cripple a community.

Hurricane Florence caused large-scale harm in North Carolina, damaging buildings, bridges and roads. Some communities received more than three feet of rain. More than three dozen people were killed by the storm. While floodwaters are receding, they remain a threat in many areas.

While people in North Carolina had warning that the hurricane was on its way, flooding can happen quickly and without notice. Flooding is the most frequent natural disaster in the United States and occurs year-round.

To help you stay prepared and safe, Get Ready’s new infographic has tips on floods. Help others learn what to do by posting it on social media or printing it and sharing it with your family, campus and community.
For more information on flooding, check out our fact sheet. You can add your logo.

To help people who are affected by Hurricane Florence, visit the Get Ready website.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Spread the word to protect the herd: New Get Ready video shares message on herd immunity and flu

It’s almost flu season, and you know what that means: It’s time for your annual flu shot! Getting vaccinated against the flu is the best thing you can do to prevent getting sick from flu. But did you know that getting vaccinated can also help protect people around you?

It’s called herd immunity. Yes, we said “herd,” as in cows. But in this case, we’re talking about people, not cattle.

When many people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, the disease can stop spreading there. This protects people who can’t get vaccinated, like young babies, seniors who are at high risk of flu and people with weakened immune systems. When you and your family get vaccinated, you help stop the flu from reaching others.

If you’ve ever heard someone say that they haven’t gotten a flu shot and didn’t get the flu, they may be feeling the positive effects of herd immunity. But herd immunity doesn’t mean you can skip your shot!

A screenshot from the video.
People who aren’t vaccinated are at higher risk of getting the flu and passing it on to someone who may have a hard time fighting it off. Remember, herd immunity only works if everyone who can get vaccinated does!

A recent study showed that when people learn about herd immunity and local vaccine coverage, they may be more likely to get vaccinated. To help spread the word about herd immunity, APHA’s Get Ready campaign has created a short new video.

With fun animation and a simple message, it’s great to use with family and friends and in your community. Watch and share the video today!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Ready, set, snap! Enter the AJPH Photo Contest

When disasters like wildfires, hurricanes and floods strike around the world, they make headlines. But such emergencies aren’t just far-off occurences. Disasters can happen anywhere, anytime — including your community — and they can be devastating.

September’s National Preparedness Month, organized by, reminds us that we need to prepare ourselves, our families and our communities for disasters now and all year long.
To raise awareness, APHA’s American Journal of Public Health is holding its third photo contest.

Open now, the contest is building on the official National Preparedness Month theme, “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

Show us your best three pictures that communicate how your community is affected by disasters, how it's preparing and how it's helping others. The winning photo will be featured in AJPH, APHA’s renowned public health journal.

Entries are being accepted only through Instagram. Submit your original photo now with the #AJPHPhotoContest hashtag and tag @americanpublichealth.

The deadline to enter is Saturday, Sept. 15.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Think you wash your hands the right way in the kitchen? Think again!

Today’s guest post is by Adam Ghering, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Have you ever seen someone handling food in a way that you would never do yourself? Maybe they were preparing raw poultry and then immediately handled lettuce without washing their hands.

Or maybe they did wash their hands, but they dried them by wiping them on their pants. You would never do that, right? Then again, maybe there are things we all do that might increase our risk for foodborne illness.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recently completed an observational study in which participants were recorded cooking in a test kitchen to see if they handled food unsafely while cooking.

Preliminary results show that participants didn’t do well preventing bacteria from spreading around their kitchen or verifying that their turkey burgers were safe to eat. Check out the list of top five food safety mistakes participants made that increased their risk of illness:

• 97 percent of the time participants should have washed their hands, they failed to do so successfully. Of the 1,195 recorded points when hand-washing was necessary to control possible bacteria transfer, participants failed to wash their hands successfully more than 1,150 times.

• 48 percent of participants cross-contaminated spice containers due to lack of hand-washing. Because they didn’t wash their hands adequately, harmless tracer microorganisms that act just like human pathogens spread throughout the kitchen.

Campylobacter and salmonella, bacteria found in poultry products, have been shown to survive on food contact surfaces for up to four and 32 hours, respectively.

• 5 percent of participants transferred bacteria to salads they prepared and would have immediately served if cooking at home.

• 66 percent of participants did not used a food thermometer while preparing turkey burgers during the study. Some participants used color and feel instead to determine if the burgers were safe to eat. Using a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature is the only way to verify meat and poultry are safe to eat.

• 45 percent did not cook the turkey burger to the minimum safe internal temperature of 165 degrees. Not cooking poultry to at least 165 degrees can lead to bacteria surviving the cooking process.

The good news is that cooking food safely is in your hands and doing so can help keep you and your family healthy. Control the transfer of bacteria in your kitchen by always following the five steps of hand-washing after touching raw meat and poultry. Know that you have destroyed any bacteria in your meat and poultry by cooking to the proper internal temperature.

If you are cooking a burger, insert the thermometer through the side of the burger, and ensure the probe reaches the center of the burger, which is the coldest portion. Cook meat and poultry to these internal temperatures:
• Beef, pork, lamb and veal — steaks, roasts and chops: 145 degrees with a three-minute rest
• Ground beef: 160 degrees
• Poultry, whole and ground: 165 degrees

Once you have cooked your foods, make sure to pack the leftovers up and refrigerate them within two hours. In hot summer weather when it is above 90 degrees, refrigerate them within one hour.

For more food safety information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, or email or chat at

Friday, August 03, 2018

Keeping your summer fun bite-, itch- and disease-free

It’s August, which is prime time for outdoor summer fun. Unfortunately, it’s also prime time for creepy-crawly bugs that want to feed on your blood.

While you’re outside enjoying nature and posing for your perfect Instagram post, you'll need to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

Let’s start with ticks: The biggest risk here is Lyme disease, and it’s no joke. It can cause fatigue, rashes and headaches and even spread to your nervous system if left untreated. To avoid it, wear insect repellant when you spend lots of time outside, especially if you’re in the woods or in a field. Wear light-colored clothing and socks so that you can see a tick if one gets on you.

Check your body for ticks when you come inside, and be thorough. If you find one, don’t freak out: Carefully remove the tick with tweezers using these instructions and talk to your doctor if you have a rash, fever or concerns.

Now for mosquitoes: Most people are very familiar with them, as they’ve bothered us at every summer barbecue ever. Mosquitoes carry diseases like West Nile virus, Zika, dengue and malaria, none of which you want to have. Before you head outside, put on insect repellent and do your best to wear long clothing that covers your arms and legs.

If you’re traveling outside the U.S., be sure to use mosquito bite prevention, as mosquitoes in certain areas of the world may be more likely to carry harmful diseases. Use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel guide to check risks at your destination.

Have a safe and bite-free summer!

Photo courtesy Lauren Bishop/CDC

Thursday, July 26, 2018

How to conserve water when there’s a drought

When there’s a drought, it’s not just the plants that suffer. People are affected too.
Climate change increases the risk of droughts, which puts stress on our water supply. When that happens, officials in your community may tell you to ease up on your water usage.

There are many steps you can take to conserve water. While they’re especially useful during droughts, you can also do them year-round.
During a drought, it's especially important to consider how much water
you use every day. (Photo by, courtesy Pexels)

Here are a few to follow when inside your home:

Reuse your water: If it’s not soapy, take leftover water from your sink and pour it in a plant or garden.

Turn it off: Don’t leave the water running while you’re brushing your teeth, washing dishes or shaving in the shower.

Shop smart: When buying appliances, choose water-saving ones. Look for products with the WaterSense label, which are certified to be water-efficient. 

Fill ‘em up: When you have to use big water-sucking appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine, wait until they’re full.

You can take also save water outside your home:

• Plant smart: Instead of grass, plant native ground covers, shrubs and trees with lower water demand.

• Pile it on: Use mulch to help keep water in the soil and control weeds.

Keep it tight: Cover pools when not in use to reduce evaporation.

Your local and state officials will have more ideas and rules for you to follow during a drought, so be sure to pay attention. In the meantime, check out more tips here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Things are heating up, but you don’t have to

Throughout the long winter months, we often dream of the warmth that summer brings. But what do we do when the heat is just too much?

Extreme heat can be really bad for our health. Fortunately for us, there are things we can do to make sure that we stay healthy while making the most out of the summer months.
First, stay alert. If the weather forecast is calling for super-hot days, there may be heat alerts from national and local authorities telling you to protect yourself.

In extreme heat, stay indoors. Find places with air conditioning — such as libraries, recreational centers or a friend’s house — that will keep you cool. If you have to be outside, avoid a lot of physical activity and find shade. Never, ever leave a person or pet alone in a car on a hot day.
Protect your body with what you put in and on it. Avoid sugary drinks in extreme heat. Drink water to stay cool and hydrated and eat frequent, small meals. Leave the dark clothing in your closet. Light, loose clothes reflect heat away from you and allow for cool air flow.

So why all the fuss? The fact is, extreme heat can make you really sick — and even be deadly. Look for signs like muscle spasms, dizziness, exhaustion, sweating, nausea, vomiting and fainting. They could mean that you are getting sick from the heat.

If so, cool down with a cold bath and a cool drink. If it’s an emergency, call 911.
For more tips on how to stay cool this summer, check out our fact sheet and share our heat wave graphics.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New Get Ready mosquitoes infographic helps fight the bite

It’s summertime! Unfortunately, along with barbecues, vacation and beach days, summer also means peak mosquito season.

Our new Get Ready infographic can help you stay safe this summer!
Mosquitoes aren’t just itchy and annoying. They can carry diseases like West Nile virus, dengue, malaria and Zika. West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the U.S., with more than 2,000 people getting sick from it last year.

The good news is that our new Get Ready infographic has great tips to ward off mosquitoes, including what to wear, how to protect your home and ways to mosquito-proof your yard.

Our infographic is great for posting on social media and your website. You can print copies and share them at a summer health fair, on the office bulletin board or on your home fridge. There’s even space to add your organization or health department’s logo.

While you’re on the Get Ready site, check out our other great infographics, including tips on heat, storms and floods.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Calling all animal lovers! Announcing APHA's 2018 Get Ready Photo Contest

dogSometimes our furry friends love us so much they think they are one of us. If you have an animal that loves acting like a human, they could be featured in our next Get Ready calendar.

Whether your puppy sometimes likes to help out with the dishes, or your rabbit loves to dress up bunny-professional, we want to see it!

Just snap a picture of a critter doing something adorably human. It could be a pet, zoo or farm animal or creature in the wild. Then submit your photo to APHA's 2018 Get Ready Photo Contest.

If your picture gets selected, our Get Ready team will tack on a cute caption or fact about the importance of emergency preparedness and include it in our 2019 calendar.

To look back at previous photo contests, check out our 2014 calendar or 2013 calendar.

Take a look at our FAQs and rules for full details.

Submissions are open now through July 27, so get snapping!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The wide world of grilling: Cooking safe this Fourth of July weekend and all summer long

Today’s guest post is by Adam Ghering, public affairs specialist with the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. With Fourth of July just around the corner, grill season is officially here. Learn how to cook safely for your family or a crowd with these tips from USDA.

Long days and beautiful weather make the summer months perfect for grilling outdoors. There are many different types of grills and cooking methods to cook your meat and poultry.

Regardless of what grill you use, food safety is essential to make sure you do not get yourself or family and friends sick. Here’s a quick overview of each general type of heating source for the home grill and specific food safety tips when grilling.

• Charcoal: Using charcoal imparts a smoky flavor on the foods you’re cooking. Watch out though, as charcoal grills can get up to 700 degrees! Hot grills can quickly brown the outside of meats, giving the meat the appearance of being “done.” However, the internal portions of the meat may not be cooked to a safe temperature. Always use a food thermometer to verify a safe internal temperature has been reached.

• Gas and propane: While gas and propane grills will generally provide less of a smoky flavor compared to charcoal, they can be heated to cooking temperatures very quickly, and the heat can be controlled more precisely. If you are cleaning the grill surface with a wire cleaning brush, carefully inspect the grill for bristles that might have come off of the brush or consider using other grill cleaning methods or products. 

Check out these tips to learn more about safe grilling!
(Photo courtesy of the USDA)
• Electric: All you need is an electric outlet to start an electric grill, and it can be heated up in a uniform manner. You can partially cook food in an oven, stove or microwave before grilling to reduce grilling time, but the food must be placed on the preheated grill immediately after partially cooking.

• Campfire: With so many options for cooking techniques — grilling baskets, skewers, metal grate, Dutch oven — and the addition of that wonderful smoky flavor, campfire grilling can be an appealing option. But watch out! Fatty foods can produce grease, which if exposed to flames can cause flare ups. Cold spots in the fire can lead to cold spots in the food.

Whichever types of grilling you do, always use a food thermometer to ensure your meat and poultry is safe to eat. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees. Beef, pork, lamb and veal — steaks, roasts and chops — should be cooked to 145 degrees with a three-minute rest time. Ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees, while whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry should reach 165 degrees.

Keep in mind that when grilling, some foods cook faster than others. You may need to keep cooked food hot — above 140 degrees — while waiting for other pieces to reach a safe internal temperature. If that is the case, create different levels of heat by positioning charcoal on one side of the grill, or turning heating elements higher on a specific side. The high heat area will allow for cooking, while the lower heat side can be used to keep food warm until serving.

If you have a question about meat, poultry or egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline or email or chat via Ask Karen or Pregúntele a Karen.
Get more tips on safe cooking outdoors with this USDA fact sheet.

Have a safe, happy and tasty Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Why a preparedness bill in Congress right now will be good for your community

We all know it’s important to be personally prepared for emergencies — that’s why we have flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits and food and water tucked away, right?

But if a major disaster happens, it’s really crucial that health workers in our communities are prepared too. Just like fire departments and emergency medical personnel, workers in health departments and public health labs need to be staffed, trained and ready to help when it matters most. Which is why a bill that’s making its way through Congress right now is so important.

Once it’s approved, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018, also known as PAHPA, will continue funding that’s used to support preparedness at thousands of health departments and labs in communities all around the country, including yours.

This is really important, as funding is crucial when dealing with disease outbreaks such as flu or Ebola — or in the event of biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear incidents. Clearly, we don’t want any of these disasters to happen. But if they do, we want our health workers to be prepared. After all, they are the ones who protect us, our families and our communities.

A Senate committee recently approved the preparedness funding legislation. APHA thanked the committee members for their support. The Association also called for more funding so that we can make sure our health departments and labs can do all they need to. A House committee is now working to develop its version of the legislation.

APHA will continue to advocate for preparedness funding as the bill makes its way through Congress. Stay tuned for more updates!

The U.S. Capitol building, where PAHPA was
introduced in the Senate.
(By rrodrickbeiler, courtesy iStockphoto)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Volcanoes and people don’t mix: Why you really need to heed warnings to stay away

The closest most people will get to a volcanic eruption is a science class experiment. Mixing vinegar and baking soda can be a huge mess, but volcanic eruptions have the ability to crush entire cities. Eruptions can create lasting effects for the entire world.

For people in Guatemala and Hawaii, the hazards caused by volcanoes are all too real right now. Thousands of residents in Hawaii have been displaced as Kilauea continues to erupt, and the death toll has climbed following the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala.

A man uses a gas mask to protect from
harmful volcanic ash in May in Hawaii.
(Photo by Grace Simoneau/FEMA)
The U.S. has over 150 active volcanoes, two of which — Kilauea and Mauna Lau, also in Hawaii — are among the world’s most active volcanoes. This may seem like a shocking number, but an active volcano is simply one that has erupted in the past 10,000 years. So while it’s unlikely that a volcano is going to erupt in your backyard, you may be living in a volcano hazard zone.

Volcanoes often show warning signs of eruption, but your time for action may be short. There are several steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared in the event of a volcanic eruption:

  • Know what is going on around you. The Volcano Hazards Program offers real-time updates on volcanic activity in the U.S. If you live in a volcano hazard zone, sign up for alerts from the Volcano Notification System
  • Have a plan of action. Volcanoes produce lava, ash, gases and debris that cause air pollution, water contamination and bodily harm. You’ll want to have a kit ready with face masks, water, goggles, a battery-operated radio and other emergency supplies. Talk to your family about an evacuation plan including emergency contacts, places to meet and a plan for pets.
  • If a volcano erupts, it’s time to act. Always follow evacuation instructions from local authorities. Don’t linger, and don’t stick around to take photos or videos — it’s not worth your life. When outside, cover your eyes with goggles, your mouth with a face mask and as much of your skin as possible. Then seek shelter. If inside, continue to cover your eyes, mouth and skin. Close and seal all doors, windows and other points of entry. 
  • After the eruption, let your friends and family know you’re OK by using systems such as Safe and Well and social media. Avoid driving in ash and only go outside if authorities say it’s safe to do so. Take caution when clearing ash and debris from homes and cars, as ash can weaken structures and cause roofs to collapse. 

Preparing now can protect you and your family later. For more tips, check out our Get Ready fact sheet.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Recent flooding: what to do

Listen to the radio for storm and flood announcements.
(By Mcelroyart, courtesy iStockphoto)
Recently, many states along the East Coast have experienced flooding due to high levels of rainfall. According to the Red Cross, floods can occur for many reasons including heavy rain, hurricanes or even melting snow from a blizzard. A common type of flood is a flash flood, which means that the flood develops very quickly in a short amount of time.

Floods can be pesky — not only are they dangerous, but they also can cause major damage to houses and cars. Luckily, Get Ready has your back! Here are a few tips to keep  you and your family safe:
Local media and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will announce if there is a flood warning in your area. Stay tuned to your radio or TV. If a flood is imminent, check your emergency kit to make sure it is well stocked. You can even make one for your pet! Be ready to evacuate and know the safest route to an emergency shelter. If you have time, the Red Cross suggests filling up your car’s gas tank, checking your bottled water supply and turning off any propane tanks.

It’s also a good idea to discuss an evacuation plan with your family. FEMA says to make sure that everybody, especially children, knows each other’s contact information, and to come up with a meeting point in case of separation.

Once the flooding begins, do not go outside — floodwaters move very quickly and may contain insects or other harmful parasites. It’s important to remember never to drive in a flood, as it can often lead to drowning. The Red Cross suggests that you monitor local radio, and be mindful of any water damage to electrical appliances. If you live in an area where floods are common, you may also want to consider purchasing flood insurance to ensure financial security in the event of a flood.

The powerful currents and potential water damage associated with flooding can be scary, but just like any emergency, you’re better off when you prepare. Follow these suggestions and your next flood experience will be smooth sailing!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Get Ready Mailbag: What’s up with vector-borne diseases?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you! Have a question you want answered? Send an email to

I hear that vector-borne diseases are on the rise. What’s that about and what can I do about it?

You heard right. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this month that vector-borne diseases have increased. And they’ve increased a lot. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

But first, let’s explain what we’re talking about here. Vector-borne diseases are the diseases you get from bug bites. Most often, that means mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. They tend to get the disease from animals and then pass it on to humans when they bite.

The new CDC study said illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. More than 640,000 cases were reported from 2004 through 2016. (That’s a lot of bug bites!) We’re talking diseases like Zika, West Nile virus, dengue, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

As climate change is making the U.S. hotter, the bugs that spread these diseases are moving around to new, warmer locations in the US and infecting more people.

So what can you do? The most important way to fight vector-borne diseases is to protect yourself.

That means wearing insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and pants. You should find and remove ticks daily from family and pets when they go outdoors. Avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours from dusk until dawn.

And install screens on the windows in your home and repair screens with rips or tears.

Photo: Ticks can be the size of a poppyseed, including the five shown on this muffin, CDC says. (Photo courtesy CDC) 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hurricane season is on its way, and it may be another doozy

Do you remember Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria? We sure do, and so do people in Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of them are still recovering, in fact. The three storms were so destructive that the World Meteorological Organization has retired their names. 

Last year was one of the most active seasons for Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. With 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, 2017 was one for the record books.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association hasn’t released its 2018 hurricane season predictions yet, but a few other groups have. Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project is predicting another above-average season, with 14 named storms.

It’s not just the number of hurricanes we have to look out for, though. It’s also how severe they are. A study that just came out says climate change is heating up the oceans, which is making hurricanes worse. Waters in the U.S. Gulf were hotter last year than any time on record, which fueled Hurricane Harvey as it headed toward Texas, researchers say.

“As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey,” says Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and lead author of the study.

With the Atlantic hurricane season starting June 1, now is the time to begin planning for your safety. Know where you’ll go if you’re told to evacuate and how you’ll get there — and never ignore orders to evacuate. Have your emergency supplies updated and ready to take with you. Make sure your family members know how to communicate and meet up. And don’t forget to make plans for your pets.

Get more hurricane preparedness tips in our Get Ready fact sheet.

Photo credit: Mariele Vargas sits with ruined furniture and personal property from her home in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, in November 2017. Her home was destroyed when Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. (Photo by Andrea Booher, courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Donate food to Stamp Out Hunger and help prepare your community

During Hurricane Harvey last year, thousands of people were displaced from their homes and were forced to seek shelter. They also sought out food, with many of them turning to the Houston Food Bank, which provided 750,000 pounds of food and supplies a day.

Food banks play an important role in community preparedness, because they are often where people turn to for assistance after a disaster or emergency. That’s why it’s important to support food banks year-round. This weekend, it will be a lot easier to do so, thanks to a national food drive that will be coming to your door.

When your postal carriers drop by this Saturday, they will be ready to pick up more than just mail. Saturday, May 12, is the national Stamp Out Hunger food drive, during which carriers pick up food donations that are set out next to U.S. mailboxes.

Held annually since 1992, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive is the nation’s largest one-day food drive. The event is organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers with support from the U.S. Postal Service and other sponsors.

To take part, just leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal, next to your mailbox before your mail comes on Saturday. Food items should be in non-breakable containers, such as boxes and cans, and should not be expired.

If you’re not sure whether your postal carrier will be taking part in the food drive Saturday, contact your local post office.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Summer, summer, summer: Oh, oh, it’s magic (but watch out for storms)

Who’s ready for summer? Bright sunshine, blue skies and warm weather are a big “yes, please!” for most people. Frankly, we’re counting down the days to the summertime merry-go-round here at Get Ready.

But with summer weather also comes summer storms. And summer storms can mean high winds, power outages, lightning, flooding and even water contamination. Way to rain on our summer parade, Mother Nature.

The good news is our new Get Ready infographic on summer storms can help you stay safe.
It’s a quick and easy rundown of some of the risks you may face and ways to avoid them.

Post the infographic on your website, share it on social media or print out a few copies. It’s great for hanging on break room bulletin boards or home refrigerators. There’s even a space for you to add your logo.

In a jiff, you’ll be ready to get out there and enjoy that summer magic.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Be aware of flooding dangers

Most of the time, brief bouts of spring and summer rain are a welcome break. After all, plants, animals and humans all need water to survive.

By Joe Center Media
But with too much rain comes flooding, which can be a huge problem. A sudden buildup of fast-flowing water can be dangerous for many reasons, with drowning the biggest concern. More than 125 people died from flooding in the U.S. in 2016, so it’s important to take caution and never drive or walk through floodwaters.

What’s in floodwaters can also be harmful to your health. Chemicals, sewage and other dangers can be present. When dealing with floodwater, wear protective clothing like masks, rubber gloves and boots. If you have a cut or rash, keep it covered with a waterproof bandage. Clean your skin well with soap and water.

The dangers don’t end when floodwaters recede. That’s because flooding can leave behind pools of water. These are perfect places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Empty and scrub things that hold water in your yard or neighborhood, such as buckets, planters, toys, birdbaths and trash containers. If you have water that can’t be dumped, consider using mosquito larvicide.

Floodwater in homes can also lead to mold. Mold can cause breathing problems, especially in kids and seniors. To protect yourself, clean and dry your home as soon as you can. Air out buildings by opening windows and running fans. Clean surfaces with hot water and soap. Throw away wet food, medicine or anything else you can’t clean or dry quickly. Remember the rule: When in doubt, throw it out!

Clean up any mold you find with a mix of bleach and water. Again, make sure you have protection, such as gloves, boots and masks.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that your home is ready for flooding year-round. A good first step is to buy flood insurance. Next, put together an evacuation plan and discuss it with your family. Make sure you’re stocked up on food and supplies and have them ready to go if you need to evacuate.

By being ready for flooding before and after a storm, you can make sure you and your home stay safe and healthy. Check out our Get Ready fact sheet for more tips.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Child care centers and flu: Are they prepared?

By monkeybusinessimages courtesy iStockphoto
Child care centers do lots of things to make sure the kids they watch over are protected. Safe play spaces, healthy food and an attentive adult eye are common features.

But when it comes to a serious, widespread outbreak of flu, child care centers may not be so prepared, scientists found recently.

In a study published last year, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 child care center directors about practices such as infection control, communication, immunization and health care training.

Unfortunately, the study found readiness was low: Only 7 percent of directors had taken actions to prepare their centers for a pandemic flu outbreak. The study looked at pandemic flu in particular because it has the potential to be very dangerous, especially for young children — the main users of child care centers.

Pandemic flu is different than seasonal flu for a few reasons: It’s easily spread, it’s a new type of flu most people don’t have immunity to and there won’t be a vaccine. And as the name implies, it’s happening around the world, meaning lots of cases.

Child care centers can be doing more to protect kids from the flu, the researchers said. Directors should be trained by licensed professionals, such as health consultants, to educate staff on health and safety issues. That will help to increase awareness and knowledge of the flu pandemic.

Parents should also be actively involved. Ask questions. Learn how your child care center is taking action in preventing the spread of the flu. That’s important whether there is a flu pandemic or if it’s just a regular flu season.

There are also lots of ways that you can protect your child from the flu beyond the child care center. 

Remember, an annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent your child from flu.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Stress less with preparedness

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. Eighty percent of Americans report at least one symptom of stress a month. And with Tax Day just around the corner, a lot of people are feeling some big-time stress right now.

It makes sense that April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day, a time for people to assess their stress and make plans to address it. Luckily, planning for disasters is one thing that doesn’t have to be stressful. More planning means less stress when an emergency occurs.

With that in mind, APHA’s Get Ready campaign is here to make your disaster planning easy:

  • Step 1: Know the risks in your area. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to preparedness. Different regions have different risks. If you live in southern California, it makes sense to be more prepared for earthquakes and wildfires than snowstorms. You never know what might happen, though, so sign up for emergency alerts to be notified when an emergency happens.
  • Step 2: Make an emergency plan for your household. Be sure everyone knows what to do, where to go and how to get in touch with each other during an emergency. It’s also a good idea to work together with members of your community. 
  • Step 3: Assemble your emergency supplies. Think about your family’s specific needs and plan accordingly. You know you’ll need food, water and first-aid supplies, but don’t forget extra litter for kitty, hearing aid batteries for grandma or allergy meds for junior. Also, be sure and create a “go-bag” that you can easily grab in a hurry.
  • Step 4: Practice! Make sure you know your evacuation routes, the locations of all your supplies and your emergency meeting locations.

Four steps later and you’re a pro! Being prepared for a disaster can help lower stress during a high-intensity time. After all, protecting your mental health is good for preparedness.

Check out the Get Ready site for even more easy planning materials.

Monday, April 02, 2018

National Public Health Week: The perfect opportunity to promote preparedness

Get your party hats on, because it’s National Public Health Week!

This year, APHA is using April 2-8 to highlight issues that are important to the nation’s health. NPHW is a week filled with fun and exciting educational activities. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to share information on preparedness so that you and your community will be ready to tackle any unexpected disaster! After all, a prepared community is a healthy community.

The theme of this year’s NPHW is “Healthiest Nation 2030: Changing Our Future Together.” Each weekday of NPHW highlights a specific area within public health:

  • Monday, April 2: Behavioral health. About 1 in 5 U.S. adults have a mental illness. Share information about mental health and disasters from Get Ready. 
  • Tuesday, April 3: Communicable diseases. Get Ready has great materials to share on this topic, including fact sheets on flu, Zika, dengue and Ebola. They’re perfect for passing out at your community or campus health fair.
  • Wednesday, April 4: Environmental health. Help maintain a healthy planet and protect human health. Our heat waves and floods fact sheets can raise awareness of threats. 
  • Thursday, April 5: Injury and violence prevention. Preventable unintentional injuries are among the leading causes of death in the U.S. Learn about policies and safety measures that can be taken to reduce them.
  • Friday, April 6: Ensuring the right to health. Everyone deserves the right to live, learn, work, worship and play in a healthy environment, free from preventable disease and disability. 

No time to plan an event? No problem! Anyone can show their support for National Public Health Week. It can be as simple as sharing a post on Facebook or Twitter, or hanging information on your workplace bulletin board or fridge.

For more ideas on how you can get involved, check out APHA’s NPHW page.