Monday, December 09, 2019

Pass along fun and merriment this season, not the flu

The holiday season is upon us, whether we’re ready for it or not. But one thing we can be ready for this season is the flu.

Before holiday shopping, socializing and endless eating take over our lives, take a break and go get your flu shot. Bring along family members or friends who haven’t received their vaccination as well. Make it an outing, with holiday sweaters and a stop for brunch to make it festive if you have to.
The important thing is to just go get your vax. Because flu season is here, and it’s looking like it will be a bad one.You need to be protected and so do the people you care about.

Last week was National Influenza Vaccination Week, which promotes flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. One reason officials are encouraging flu shots now is that all that holiday partying and travel can spread the flu. That means you can 1) get the flu and 2) pass it along to people you care about, which is a gift no one wants to receive.

The flu shot is safe and takes about two weeks to be effective after you get it, so now is the perfect time to get yours.

Still not convinced? There are so, so many benefits to getting a flu shot
Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu. Millions of illness and flu-related doctor visits are prevented each year by flu shots.
Flu vaccination can reduce visits to the hospital for flu. For seniors, getting a flu shot can lower their risk of flu-associated hospital visits by 40%.
In children, the flu vaccine can be particularly lifesaving. A study in 2017 showed that flu vaccination significantly decreases the risk of kids dying from the flu.
Flu vaccination can help prevent serious medical issues for people with chronic illnesses. In people with heart disease, flu vaccination decreases the rate of cardiac events.
Flu vaccination helps to protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting a flu shot protects babies after they’re born. It also reduces the risk of flu-related acute respiratory infections by about 40% in pregnant women.
Even if you do get the flu, getting the flu shot will mean that your symptoms will not as bad, and they won’t last as long.

For more info on vaccines and flu, check out our Get Ready fact sheets. For resources to share from CDC, including posters, FAQs and talking points, see their National Influenza Vaccination Week page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Make sure your Thanksgiving guests go home with happy memories, not stomach cramps

The holidays are here, which means you’re probably getting ready to share meals and merriment with families and friends.

This can be a fantastic and yummy time of the year. But if you don’t take care while preparing all that delicious holiday food, you can put people at risk for food poisoning.

Anyone can get sick from food poisoning, but some folks are at higher risk. Kids under age 5, seniors and women who are pregnant are all more likely to get sick from food and have a serious illness.

Luckily, preventing food poisoning can be easy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture  has these tips to help home chefs create safe Thanksgiving meals:

• Wash your hands often while cooking. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands on a clean paper towel, not a dirty apron or towel.
• Prevent cross-contamination. Clean surfaces as you go, including sinks and counters. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meat and other food. That way, you won’t end up with raw turkey juice in your salad. (Blech!)
• Cook the turkey to 165 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check it’s done, and never rely on those cheap pop-up ones that come with the turkey.
• Follow the two-hour rule. If all your food hasn’t been gobbled up two hours after you’ve set it out on the table, it’s time to wrap it up and stick it in the fridge. Any leftovers that are perishable should be eaten or frozen within three to four days.

For more seasonal food prep tips, check out

If you have questions while cooking your turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.
Have a happy, healthy holiday!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Are you ready for a quake? Debunking the myths and sharing the facts

We know earthquakes can be scary. They’re unpredictable and can happen anywhere. But there’s good news: Preparing for earthquakes can help keep you safe.

First, let’s debunk some common earthquake myths:

MYTH: Earthquakes don’t happen where I live.
FACT: Major earthquakes happen in all regions across the country. They can happen at any time and in any place, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

MYTH: The best thing to do when you feel an earthquake is to stand in a door frame.
FACT: The best plan of action when you feel an earthquake is to drop, cover and hold on.
Following these steps will give you the best opportunity to stay safe.

Now that you know the facts, it’s time to prepare. Having emergency supplies is the first step. Here’s what’s best to have in your earthquake emergency kit:

1. Water: We use water for drinking, cooking and washing. Experts recommend that everyone has at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Don’t forget your pets!

2. Food: Having shelf-stable foods — like canned goods, peanut butter and dried fruit — means they will keep longer, even without power. Healthy food in your supply can give you energy if you are asked to evacuate.

3. Small hygiene kit : Staying clean with hand sanitizer and wipes can help prevent the spread of germs.

4. First-aid kit: This is an essential! You can find small first-aid kits at many stores. If you’d like to create your own, add in gauze, bandages, antiseptic wipes and pain medication, as well as items for special needs you may have.

5. Flashlight + batteries: Earthquakes can be damaging. Losing power is common. Having a reliable flashlight with extra batteries can be helpful when it’s dark.

6. Portable cellphone charger: Your phone can be incredibly helpful for contacting emergency services, family members or even using the GPS functions if you are lost. You may not have access to a power outlet, so having a portable or solar charger is key.

Knowledge and preparedness are the best ways to prevent injury in disaster situations. Make sure you and your household have discussed earthquake safety procedures.

Help spread the word about earthquake safety by downloading and printing our Get Ready fact sheet, which is available in English or Spanish.You can even add your own logo!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Get ready: It’s time to set your clocks and check your stocks

Daylight saving time ends this Sunday, Nov. 3. It’s the perfect reminder to check that your emergency stockpile is up to date. Get Ready’s Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign helps you to be prepared for a disaster before it happens.

If you haven’t created a stockpile yet, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time. Get Ready has fact sheets that include everything that you may need.

Here’s a quick checklist of items to include in your stockpile:

  • A three-day supply of water, with one gallon of water per person per day
  • A three-day supply of nonperishable food and a manual can opener
  •  Flashlights, a radio and batteries
  •  First-aid kit
  • Prescription drugs, sanitary supplies and diapers
  • Pet supplies

Disasters usually happen with little or no warning. You may not have time to go to the store. Think about what you will be eating and using during an emergency. For stockpile recipe ideas, check out Get Ready’s emergency preparedness cookbook.

And don’t forget: Daylight savings time changes also are a great reminder to check the batteries in your smoke alarms!

For more tips on what supplies to include your emergency preparedness kit, check out Get Ready’s resources and share them on social media.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Becoming personally prepared by region

Know what disasters, like fires, happen in your region.
(By GomezDavid, courtesy iStockphoto)
Emergencies tend to catch us when we’re not looking. So we need to plan for them. But being prepared isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  Preparedness looks different based on where you live.

Natural disasters and disease outbreak can happen anywhere. But not every state is affected the same way. The Federal Emergency Management Agency keeps track of disasters for every state. Since 1953, California has had the most fire emergencies with 227. People in New York and Virginia experience more snow emergencies. Those in Georgia and Arkansas get the most tornadoes.  Florida and North Carolina are more likely to be impacted by hurricanes. Every state is different.

Luckily, we can predict when and where some disasters will happen. They tend to repeat in the same location. But sometimes we don’t get a warning, so it’s important to prepare for your area.

The first step toward becoming personally prepared is identifying the disasters in your community. Hurricanes, earthquakes and winter storms will require different emergency steps and supplies. Read the fact sheets most relevant to you carefully. If you don’t see a link for a disaster common in your region, we have more tips online.

After you’ve figured out the disasters common in your area, make a plan. Ask yourself what you should include in your emergency stockpile.  How much water will you need? Talk about an emergency evacuation route with your friends and family. 

Once you’ve put together a personalized plan, practice it. If you have kids, practice with them too. You need emergency drills at home like in school. While preparedness isn’t a one-size-fits-all, everyone can prepare for likely disasters. That can make them a little less disastrous!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Prepare now for power outages

By Pixsoonz, courtesy istockphoto
If you don’t prepare for power outages, you risk getting caught in the dark. Power outages happen at any time and you never know how long they’ll last.

You can start preparing for power outages by building a basic emergency preparedness kit. Never use candles to light your home! This should include a first-aid kit, a weather radio, flashlights, batteries and important medications. It could also have important documents for insurance, bank accounts and forms of identification.

You also need to have a stockpile of non-perishable food and water. Everyone in your home should have a three-day supply of food and water. And don’t forget to keep extra food and water on hand for your pets, too because they will need it! Don’t open the fridge or freezer, as letting in room-temperature air could hasten your food spoiling.

Power outages in very hot and very cold weather can be unpleasant, if not downright dangerous. In the case of extremely high or low temperatures, families should find an alternative and safe place to stay. Do not use gas stoves to heat your home. The gas buildup could suffocate you and you risk starting a fire.

It’s a wonderful feeling when the lights come back on. But, if you didn’t unplug appliances and computer, they could be damaged by the power surge. When the lights go out, protect your devices and appliances by unplugging them.

Learn more about what to do before, during and after a power outage with Get Ready

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Get Ready Mailbag: Should I worry about vaccines?

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

My child just started school and is required to be up-to-date on vaccines. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media lately warning of the dangers of vaccines. Should I be concerned?

We understand your concern. After all, we all want the best for our children. With so much information — and sometimes incorrect information — available today, it can be hard to know who to trust. The bottom line is: Vaccines are safe.

There is a 1 in a MILLION chance of getting a serious reaction to a vaccine. Vaccines are studied and constantly monitored by scientists to make sure they’re safe. You may have read that vaccines cause autism, but scientific studies have continually disproven this.

Vaccinating your child is critical to protecting them against dangerous, possibly deadly, diseases. These can include the flu, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chickenpox, rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, pneumococcal disease and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

Check out Get Ready's video on herd immunity:
Getting their shots also helps protect their classmates, friends, relatives and others in the community. This is because vaccines work based on something called herd immunity. When enough people are vaccinated, the entire community is less likely to get sick. Researchers have found that for a very contagious disease, like measles, it takes 90-95 percent of the population to be vaccinated to protect the entire community.

We hope this information helps to put your mind at ease. You can find out what vaccines your child needs by speaking with their doctor. You can review CDC’s recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule. If your child has missed any vaccines, your healthcare provider can use the catch-up immunization schedule to get them back on track.

Remember: Vaccines aren’t just for kids. As a parent or caregiver, make sure you’re caught up on your shots too. That way you don’t pass along diseases to young children. You can find out more about by reviewing the CDCs adult immunization schedule.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Get Ready Day: the perfect day for preparedness!

Get ready…Get set…Get ready some more…because it’s almost Get Ready Day at APHA!

This year we will be celebrating APHA’s Get Ready Day on Sept. 17! September is National Preparedness Month, which means it’s the perfect time to raise awareness of preparedness and make sure you’re ready for anything from hurricanes and tornadoes to mosquitoes and measles!

Whether you’re just getting started with preparedness or you’re a preparedness pro, you’ve been preparing all your life, here are a few basic tips and refreshers on how to be prepared for any emergency:

Preparing for emergencies is low-risk and high-reward! It can be quick, easy and cost-effective to do. And it could make a huge difference when a disaster strikes. Join us this year on Get Ready Day to start taking these easy steps to keep you, your family and your community safe and healthy in the face of disasters and other hazards.

We encourage you to help us promote preparedness and share information by posting any of our free fact sheets on your social media accounts using the #GetReadyDay hashtag, printing them for the office or campus bulletin boards or by hanging them around your community!

Get Ready fact sheets are available in English and Spanish. You can even add your organization’s logo!

We hope you’ll join our celebration on Sept. 17! Happy Get Ready Day!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Being prepared for global health threats, even at home

With everything that’s going on in our daily lives, it can be hard to keep up with problems that are happening far away in the world. But the world is smaller than we think. In fact, it’s only one mosquito bite or bad flu season away from being over there to right here in our neighborhoods. 

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization came up with a list of the biggest threats to global health. All of the things on the list are important. But for those of us who are really into preparedness — like we are here at the Get Ready campaign — there are a few that stand out. 

First off, climate change. Climate change makes bad weather much worse. As it continues, you should be prepared for more severe weather. Hurricanes are already getting stronger every year. And as climate change continues to warm the planet, the range of disease-carrying mosquitoes will grow.

Next up: Pandemic flu. When it comes to the next flu pandemic, it’s just a matter of when. A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. We’ve already had a few flu pandemics that have spread quickly and caused a lot of deaths. The good news is that we can help prepare for flu pandemics.

Another thing public health folks are worried about? Other disease outbreaks. Ebola, Zika and dengue are some of the many infectious diseases threatening health around the world. Your risk of getting these diseases is low here in the U.S. But low chance isn’t zero chance, so you should be prepared. 

Speaking of big concerns, another is vaccinations. A growing number of people are hesitant or refusing to get vaccines for themselves and their kids. By ignoring science, preventable diseases like measles are threatening the health of children across the world, including the U.S. You can stand with science and learn about vaccines and why they are important.

To read more about the health challenges we’re facing globally, check out the full WHO list. 

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Which animals are the cutest? It’s your turn to vote!

APHA’s 2019 Get Ready Photo Contest isn’t over yet, and neither is the fun.

Our judges have chosen the 17 lucky photos that will be featured in APHA’s 2020 Get Ready Calendar, but now we’re giving you a chance to choose your favorites from the runners-up!

For our Cutest Choice Awards, we’ve created 10 polls with the contest photo submissions — featuring adorable cats, dogs, goats, horses and more — and YOU get to review them. Cast your vote on which furry or feathered friend looks “most playful” or has the “best smile” and our other fun categories.

The top vote-getters in each poll will get their chance in the spotlight, as we’ll be adding captions to the photos and sharing them on APHA social media.

If you submitted an animal photo to the contest, you’ll especially be interested in our polls, as your pic may be in here. If so, share the poll with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter to drive up those votes.

Voting ends Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 5 p.m. ET, so don’t delay!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Grilling on the beach this summer? Keep food safety in mind

Today’s guest blog post is by Janice López-Muñoz, MSIH, a public affairs specialist with the Department of Food Safety Education at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The summer months are the perfect excuse to spend time at the beach, but beach grilling fun could be spoiled with bacteria that could make you sick. There are always challenges when cooking outdoors, but a little bit of preparation can have you enjoying some well-deserved beach time with the family.

Photo by Letizia Barbi via Flickr Creative Commons
Before firing up the beach grill

• Make sure local ordinances allow grilling activities. If yes, only pack the amount of food you will consume to avoid leftovers.

• Season your food at home before packing it for the trip. Remember to wash your hands before handling raw items and in between spice containers when seasoning.

• Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into the cooler. Keep raw meat and poultry tightly wrapped and store them at the bottom to keep any juices away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Pack drinks in a separate cooler.

• A full cooler will keep its cold temperatures longer. If you still have space in your cooler, pack it with more ice.

• Don’t forget to bring moist towelettes and your food thermometer!

Keeping food safe ashore

• At the beach, partially bury your portable cooler in the sand, cover it with blankets or towels, and shade it under a tree or with a beach umbrella.

• Don’t open your cooler unless necessary to keep perishable foods colder for a longer time.

• Don't leave any perishables sitting out for more than two hours, or one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees.

• Set up and clean your grill before bringing the food out. Clean your hands before placing any foods on the grill.

Beach grill time

Make sure your grilled items are safe to eat by using a food thermometer and checking to see if they reached the right minimum internal temperatures:

• Steaks, roasts and chops: 145 degrees with a three-minute rest

• Fish: 145 degrees

• Ground meat or burgers: 160 degrees

• Poultry, whole or ground: 165 degrees

Serve food using clean plates and utensils. Clean your hands before starting to eat!

If you have a food safety question for your summer activities, call 1-888-674-6854 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. You can also email or chat via Ask Karen. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Feeling hot, hot, hot from heat waves

By rzelich, courtesy iStockphoto
Time to pour a big glass of ice water and cozy up inside near the air conditioner, because it is seriously hot out there. A big chunk of the U.S. is broiling in a nasty combo of heat and humidity this week. Cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., are expected to reach 100 degrees or more.

Because of climate change, heat waves are becoming worse and happening more often. And unfortunately, there are more to come, with back-to-back heat waves expected this season. Heat waves are even appearing in places you don’t expect. In Alaska, temperatures reached the 90 degree mark recently.

It’s not just the U.S. that’s suffering. Last month, Europe experienced a record-breaking heat wave. It was the hottest June on record for the continent, with France and Spain reaching triple digits. Dozens of people died in India this summer when the country experienced one of its longest heat waves, with temperatures over 120 degrees.

Follow these tips to stay safe during heat waves:

  • Stay inside in an air-conditioned area. If you don’t have AC at home, go to a mall, library or community center. This is a great time to catch up on Netflix, or read that book you’ve had sitting next to your bed for weeks.
  • Drink plenty of water! Don’t wait until you’re overheated to drink. Stay away from soda, caffeinated drinks and alcohol, as they can make you dehydrated. 
  • Wear light-colored, loose, breathable fabrics.
  • If you’re in the heat and have symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or excessive sweating, call your doctor or head to the emergency room immediately.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hurricane season is here. Are you ready?

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
courtesy of Flickr
Hurricane season has arrived in the U.S. In fact, one may form in the Gulf of Mexico this week. As you’re checking your TV, radio and phone for weather updates, remember to look out for hurricane warnings.

A hurricane warning is a signal that a hurricane has already started and could affect your local area. Hurricanes are predictable, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until they’re coming to prepare.
Getting ready for a storm takes a lot of planning and organization. It can take some time, and it might be stressful. You’ll need important supplies, such as a flashlight, batteries, bottled water, food and a first-aid kit.

And don’t forget to stock your car with supplies too! It’s important to have a car emergency kit in case you need to evacuate. This can include things such as an emergency kit, booster cables and printed maps. If you need to stay home, make sure you take steps to protect your space. Covering windows and tying up outdoor furniture are two things you can do to protect your home.

Talk to your family about the ways you can prepare for a hurricane. You can sit down and map out evacuation routes to your nearest shelter and contact them to make sure they’ll take your pets. After a hurricane, be aware of hazards like standing water in roads, wet electrical devices, damaged buildings and fallen power lines.

Stay safe and informed this hurricane season!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Heading to a concert, parade or picnic this summer? Stay safe in the crowd with these tips

By Chad Cooper, courtesy of Flickr
Summer is a fun time to be outside, especially with big events like music festivals, beach weekends and Fourth of July celebrations. But the large crowds can lead to dangerous situations.  It’s important to be prepared for anything, so here are a few things to keep in mind for all of your favorite summer celebrations.

• Before you go: Put on the right clothes. Wear a hat and light-colored clothes if it’s hot. Avoid open-toed shoes that can cause tripping. Charge your phone to 100% before you go. Just in case it dies, memorize important numbers. Bring water so you don’t get dehydrated and hand sanitizer to avoid germs.

• When you get there: Make sure you know where all the exits and first-aid stations are. Decide on a place to meet your friends or family in case you get separated.

• During the event: Keep an eye out for bathrooms. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. These drinks tend to dehydrate you.

• In case of emergency: Listen to instructions from officials. Try to stay near the edge of the crowd and move sideways through it when you need to leave. Stay calm! You know how to get through this.

For more tips, check out our crowd safety fact sheet. Enjoy your event!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Be smart when it’s hot: Take extreme heat seriously

By Elizabeth Rasmussen, courtesy of iStockphoto
Summer’s here, bringing hot weather with it for much of the U.S. The East and West coasts have already had their first heat waves of the season and it’s only been about a week since summer began.
Because of climate change, extreme heat is becoming more frequent in places that haven’t experienced it in the past. Climate change makes extreme heat waves hotter, longer and more frequent. Extreme heat presents many risks to human health, including death. So it’s important to understand the ways you can protect yourself. It’s much easier to prevent heat-related injuries than it is to treat them.

Before heading out, check news and weather sites to know which days are going to be hotter than average. On really hot days, don’t stay in the heat for long periods of time. Find cool spaces like indoor buildings with air-conditioning. Stay hydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Don’t do a lot of physical activity outside during a heat wave and be extra sure not to leave kids or pets in the car. Check on seniors to make sure they have a place to stay safe in the heat as well.

You can also take steps to prevent extreme heat by reducing your release of emissions that harm the climate. That means you can walk or bike to places rather than drive. Take public transit to work or carpool with friends. Shop locally grown foods that are in season.

For more everyday ideas to fight climate change, check out this tipsheet.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mosquitoes: They’re out for blood, but you can stop their bite

By Lirtlon, courtesy iStockphoto
Bzzzzzz. Aaaaaaa! SPLAT! Mosquitoes are pesky little insects and most of the time when they bite you, mosquitoes just cause itching. But some also carry deadly diseases. In fact, mosquitoes can cause about 10 kinds of diseases, including Zika and West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes usually come out during the summer months. But in warmer climates, they don’t completely go away during the other seasons either. And as the U.S. stays warmer year-round because of climate change, that’s happening in more and more states. Most areas of the U.S. have a local mosquito control program that helps to track and control mosquitoes. But you should also take steps to avoid mosquitoes on your own.

The best way to avoid getting sick from mosquitoes is to not get bitten.When outside, use insect repellent that’s been proven safe and effective by the Environmental Protection Agency. You can find a bug spray that works best for you and your family with this online tool from EPA.You can also wear permethrin-treated clothing or clothing with long sleeves. Permethrin repels insects when they come in contact with your clothes. Avoid wearing scented lotion and fragrances that attract mosquitoes.
Water collected in flower pots, trash cans, swimming pools and bird baths can become a home for mosquito eggs. Reduce mosquitoes around your home by removing areas of standing water.You should also install screens in your home to block out pests.

While traveling outside the U.S., take special care. Tropical countries have a higher risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. You can take extra steps, like hanging mosquito netting around your bed. For more travel tips, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mosquito page.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Help prevent measles with new Get Ready fact sheet

Measles cases are at a record 25-year high in the U.S.  As of June 6, more than 1,000 people in 28 states have gotten sick from measles. These numbers are shocking because there is a vaccine against measles.

To help people stay safe from the potentially dangerous disease, APHA’s Get Ready campaign has released a new measles fact sheet. The fact sheet, which is available in English and Spanish, teaches you about measles, its symptoms and how it spreads. You can learn why people still get measles and how you can prevent it.

And the best part? Our fact sheet is quick and easy to read. That means it’s perfect to share with your friends, family and co-workers. There’s even a place to add your own organization’s logo.
Read it, download it and share it today. Together, we can end measles outbreaks!

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Be prepared to stop severe bleeding with a new Get Ready podcast

Massive bleeding can happen anytime. Injuries ranging from cuts with a kitchen knife or chainsaw to a fall on a sharp object can cause you to bleed severely. A wounded person could die within five to 10 minutes of uncontrolled bleeding. It can happen that fast.

In our latest Get Ready podcast, we spoke with the American College of Surgeon’s “Stop the Bleed” program leader Lenworth Jacobs, MD. He talked with us about the program and emergency preparedness and why it’s important to be prepared to stop bleeding.

May is National Stop the Bleed Month, and National Stop the Bleed Day was May 23. Get Ready is part of this nationwide campaign to educate and raise awareness. 

In our podcast you’ll learn which communities are most at risk for a bleeding emergency and find out how preparing for serious bleeding is different than getting ready for other emergencies.
You’ll also learn what supplies you need to control bleeding and where you can get training. Everyone should learn how to better prepare themselves in case of a bleeding emergency.

Listen to our podcast or read the transcript  to get inspired to learn more to stop bleeding. Be prepared and know what to do in an emergency. You could save a life, even your own.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Take action quickly if a tornado is on its way

Tornado season has arrived in the U.S., and it’s been a hard one already.

Parts of Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri have all experienced devastating tornadoes in recent weeks. And on May 28, powerful swirling winds ripped through northeastern Kansas, causing severe property damage and dozens of injuries.

Though tornado season runs from April through May, in recent years they’ve struck regularly in the U.S. through the beginning of summer, according to the National Weather Service. Winds can blow at over 200 miles per hour and cause major property damage, injuries and sometimes deaths.

That’s why it’s smart to prepare beforehand for the possibility of tornadoes, especially because they can strike from seemingly nowhere. You can reduce your risk of getting injured in a tornado by following some simple safety tips:

• Make and practice your emergency plans.  This should include stocking up on emergency food and water — enough to last for at least three days — as well as clothing and a first-aid kit.

• Keep important information handy, such as names, phone numbers, medical information and information for emergency services.

• Sign up for your community’s emergency alerts, which can be emailed or texted to you via your cellphone. You’ll receive automatic updates as a tornado comes your way, giving you more time to find safe shelter. Neighborhood tornado sirens will also give you a heads up.

• If you don't have a cellphone for alerts or no sirens, learn to read the sky for an approaching tornado by being aware of gathering storm clouds. The sky can look green and clouds become heavy. Sometimes funnels can be seen at a distance.

Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning when issued by weather agencies.  A tornado watch means a tornado is a possibility.  Once a tornado has been spotted, a tornado warning is issued. That’s when you need to take immediate action.

• Get ready to shelter in place. Go to a basement or to the lowest floor possible in a structure.  If that’s not an option, go to a room without windows

Still have questions about tornadoes? Get more info from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and read our Get Ready tornado fact sheet

Photo by Randy Milanovic

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Traveling abroad this summer? Get ready to go with these tips

Imagine you’ve booked your dream vacation to a country that’s high on your travel bucket list. But when you get there, you come down with chills and a fever. Or during your trip, the quick lunch from the street food stand gets you feeling a bit queasy.

Traveling to a new place can be fun and exciting. It can also put you at risk for catching all kinds of bugs. Let’s face it: There’s nothing fun about getting sick anytime, much less on vacation. Luckily, you can take steps to reduce these risks. Here are some simple tips to prepare and stay healthy during your adventures abroad.

Before you go:
• Get vaccinated! Make an appointment to see your doctor or visit a travel health clinic at least six to eight weeks before you leave. Take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel quiz to find out what vaccinations are recommended.

• Do your research. Locate the hospital or clinic closest to where you are staying. The CIA World Fact Book and the U.S. Department of State Travel Information webpage can help your research.

• Prepare a travel first-aid kit. Every traveler should bring a first-aid kit. Medicine and supplies are not always readily available. Check out CDC’s Healthy Travel Packing List. Get destination-specific tips when you download CDC’s TravWell app on your mobile device.

During your trip:
• Wash your hands. Prevent infections by scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Carry hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol content in case clean water is not available.

• Eat and drink safely. Be careful of food and water contamination. If you’re not sure the water is safe, avoid ice and drink from sealed bottles or cans. Use bottled water to brush your teeth too. Eat food that is cooked well and served hot. Follow this rule: “Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.”

• Protect yourself against bugs. Mosquitoes, lice, fleas, bed bugs and ticks can carry diseases, especially in tropical locations. CDC recommends using approved insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your skin and using bug screens.

Happy travels!

Photo by RedCharlie, courtesy Unsplash

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Last call! Don’t miss your chance to make your pet a calendar star

Thanks to the Get Ready Photo Contest, our inbox has been overflowing with cuteness these past few weeks. We’ve seen adorable dogs, cats, birds, seals and more. It’s been so much fun to check our email each morning!

If you haven’t submitted your photos yet, don’t despair. The contest closes Wednesday, May 15.  That means there’s just enough time left for you to take and email us your pictures. (Hashtag: #WeekendPlans)

The contest theme is animals, and all critters are welcome. Submit pictures of pets, zoo animals, wild critters, farm animals or any other beastie. Winning photos will be featured in our 2020 preparedness calendar. Your pet doesn’t have to be doing anything related to preparedness. But if it is, even better!

For full details about the contest, check out our rules and FAQs.

Don’t miss your chance to make your pet a calendar star!

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Leave food donations by your mailbox on May 11 to support community preparedness

When times are hard, putting food on the table can be a big worry, and it can be even more so after a disaster.

That's where community food banks come in. Because they have the know-how to distribute food, water and supplies fast, food banks serve a major role in communities during emergencies.

And because we never know when a disaster might occur, it’s important to keep local food banks stocked. Which is where you come in.

This Saturday, May 11, you can join the biggest one-day food drive in the country.  During the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, mail carriers across the country will pick up donated food items along with the mail.

You can take part by setting out a bag of food donations on Saturday morning. Items that are needed include pasta, cereal, rice and canned fruits and vegetables. Set your items next to your mailbox in a sturdy bag.

Last year, the food drive collected almost 724,600 pounds of food in one day, helping feed 603,800 people. This year we can do it again and support preparedness too.

For more info on the food drive, check out the FAQs. Contact your local post office if you want to confirm that they’re participating.

If you’re feeling inspired after Stamp Out Hunger is over, you can organize your own food drive using our Get Ready toolkit. Together, we can help to reduce hunger and help our communities be prepared!

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Floodwaters are gross: Get the skinny on protecting your skin

By J Lloa, courtesy Pixabay 
Drinking water is great for your skin. But coming into contact with floodwater isn’t. When it comes to disaster-related injuries, skin disease isn’t usually at the top of most people’s mind. But it should be.

 Floodwaters can carry gross sewage, chemicals and other pollutants. If your skin is injured and you touch floodwater, you can get an infection. Infection risks are especially high after hurricanes and tsunamis, as they churn up dirt into floodwater, which can get into cuts and scrapes. Blech!

It’s not just the water itself that’s a danger to your skin during a flood, though. Floodwaters are a popular home for insects like mosquitoes or floating ants. And don’t forget the snakes, dogs and other animals disrupted during floods, as they can be more likely to bite you when stressed. Yikes!

Symptoms of skin infections are redness, tenderness, warmth and discharge. If you get hurt, grab your first-aid kit and follow CDC’s emergency wound care instructions. Seek medical help as soon as you can.

The good news is you can take steps to keep your skin safe beforehand. Never wade into floodwater if you can help it. And especially don’t do it if you have an open wound. Never, ever let kids play in floodwater.

Before a flood happens, make a first-aid kit with supplies to clean, cover and treat minor wounds. Don’t forget insect repellent. Put them in a container that will be safe in a flood and easy to access.

A flood may also mean that you don’t have access to clean water to drink or clean your hands. So always keep your emergency supplies up to date. You need at least one gallon of water per person per day in your stockpile. A three-day supply of non-perishable food is also important.

If you’re cleaning up after a flood, keep your skin safe by wearing rubber gloves, and wash your hands often.

For more flood safety tips, check out our fact sheet.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

World Immunization Week: 5 reasons why vaccines work

It’s World Immunization Week! Observed around the globe from April 24-30, the week is the perfect opportunity to educate ourselves and our communities about the importance of vaccines. This year’s theme is “Protected Together: Vaccines Work!”

The theme is a timely reminder that vaccines protect us against very serious and sometimes deadly diseases. In some cases, vaccines have ended disease threats that caused terrible illnesses. Take smallpox, for example: It once ended millions of lives. But thanks to vaccines, smallpox is history

But there are still dangers out there. Diseases like measles and whooping cough can spread really fast and cause serious harm. The good news is you can prevent them and many other diseases by getting vaccinated.

Educating yourself about vaccines and getting your shots will protect you and your loved ones. You’ll also help the health of your community.

Here are five reasons why vaccines work. Share these with your friends and family:

  • Vaccines are safe: Vaccines are studied and constantly monitored by scientists to make sure they’re safe. 
  • Vaccines protect: If enough healthy people are vaccinated, we can protect babies, seniors and sick people who can’t be vaccinated. 
  • Vaccines save money: Getting a vaccine is much less costly than being treated for a disease. 
  • Vaccines save lives: The diseases vaccines are made for can be deadly or really serious if not treated. 
  • Vaccines don’t cause autism: There’s no link between vaccines and autism. Science has disproven this again and again. 

Still have questions? Talk to your trusted health care providers. They’ll be able to share information with you and address any concerns.

Do your part to stop the spread of diseases. Celebrate World Immunization Week by reminding your family and friends that vaccines work and save lives. That way, we can all be protected together.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Floods can happen anywhere, anytime

April showers bring May flowers — and floods. From drizzling to pouring, plenty of rain has come our way this spring. In the case of the Midwest, that has led to devastating flooding.

Earth Day is April 22, which is a good reminder that climate change is bringing more extreme weather, including severe floods. Floods are scary and dangerous. This spring, floods have killed at least four people and destroyed 2,000 homes.

And rainy season isn’t over yet. Hundreds of millions of Americans are still at risk for above-average flooding through May. With that in mind, now is a great time to prepare for floods, which can happen anywhere and anytime.

Before a flood, you should:
  • Learn what evacuation plans your community has for floods. 
  • Check out shelter locations and emergency alert systems.  
  • Put together an emergency preparedness stockpile.
  • Get flood insurance, especially if you live in a high-risk area. 
During a flood, you should:

  • Turn off the electricity, gas and water when evacuating.
  • Never walk, swim or drive through floodwaters. 
  • Sanitize your sinks and bathtubs with bleach and fill them with water so you have a clean water source.

After a flood, you should:

  • Listen to authorities for instructions and information, such as whether it is safe to return to a flooded area. 
  • Wear gloves and wash your hands often when cleaning up.
  • Be alert for electrical equipment and other dangers in the water. 
  • Start an insurance claim and get help if you have damage.   

For more tips, check out our Get Ready flood fact sheet.

You can also act on climate year-round. Small, everyday changes can make a big difference! Join the conversation by using the hashtag #ClimateChangesHealth on social media.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Get your community on board with resilience

Photo by Patsy Lynch, courtesy FEMA
If a hurricane, tornado or spring snowstorm hit your area today, how well would your community be able to recover?

Being able to bounce back quickly and in a healthy way after something bad happens is known as resilience. It’s something U.S. communities are working toward, especially as weather disasters have gotten worse in recent years.

Communities are resilient when they prepare and plan for emergencies. A resilient community is also one that can recover and adapt after a disaster. That’s something we all want in our communities, right?

In March, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a new report that can help community leaders find out how well they’re doing at building resilience.

Most of the report is probably not of interest to the average community resident. But it has some really good takeaways for leaders, including:

  • Getting community residents involved in resilience is key. Community participation can help set goals and find leaders. (Who knew that neighbor of yours was secretly waiting to set up an emergency phone tree?)
  • Planners should take all parts of a community into account, including social, economic and natural structures. Are there areas of your community that are isolated, poorer or where people are less connected? What would happen to people there during a disaster?
  • Communities should collect data that can help them make decisions about resiliency. That way they can make decisions at budget planning time and share successes with residents.

If your community has a preparedness office or official, you may want to drop them a line and make sure they’ve seen the report. Tell them you want your community to be resilient and offer to help.

You can make yourself more resilient in case of an emergency too. For starters, learn what disasters your community is most at risk for. Our Get Ready fact sheets can also help you prepare. You can share them with friends, family and community leaders.

But don’t wait for a disaster to strike. Help yourself and your community become more resilient today!

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Attention animal lovers! Announcing APHA’s 2019 Get Ready Photo Contest

APHA’s Get Ready Photo Contest is back and better than ever!

This year, our annual photo contest is all about animals. That means we want to see photos of all your furry, feathery and scaly friends. Photos of pets, zoo animals, farm animals, creatures in the wild or anywhere else are welcome. If the animal is doing something related to emergency preparedness, even better. If not, we still want to see it!

Photos from the annual contest will be shared in our 2020 preparedness calendar. Thanks to popular demand, we’ll be printing the calendar this year. That’s right — your photo could appear in a calendar that will be hung on thousands of walls, cubicles and
bulletin boards across the nation!

Just snap a picture of a critter you think is cute and submit it to APHA's 2019 Get Ready Photo
Contest. Our judges will choose the best and most adorable pictures to include in our calendar. If you’ve entered the contest before and haven’t won, you can resubmit your photos. And take new ones!

To get inspired, check out this year’s Get Ready Calendar or our memorable 2014 calendar.

Check out our rules and FAQs for full details.

Submissions are open now through May 15. Happy snapping!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

NPHW: Another great reason to share preparedness information in your community

Public health and preparedness are critical for everyone. But sometimes people forget just how important they are. For one week in April, we have an opportunity to raise awareness about them both.

National Public Health Week, an annual observance led by APHA, is being celebrated April 1-7. While the week’s focus is on overall public health, it’s also the perfect opportunity to share information on getting ready for disasters.

When you’re hosting your NPHW events, look for ways to bring preparedness into the conversation. Each day of NPHW has its own theme, which gives you lots of possibilities. Monday is healthy communities, Tuesday is violence prevention,Wednesday is rural health, Thursday is technology and public health and Friday is climate change. Saturday and Sunday are both focused on global health, which ties in nicely to World Health Day on April 7.

Still need inspiration? Use some of our preparedness ideas:

  • Organize a community food drive using our toolkit to support your local food bank
  • Hold a town hall and share information on disasters in your community and include evacuation routes and local shelter locations.
  • Set up a table at your local grocery store and hand out emergency stockpile shopping lists. 
  • Having a health fair? Share some of our Get Ready fact sheets and play some of our Get Ready games with kids. 

Add your events to the NPHW calendar. Want to see your photos on the NPHW site? Tag your Instagram posts with #NPHW.

Be sure to tune into our live NPHW Forum on April 1, Twitter chat on April 3 and career panel webcast on April 4.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prepared National Public Health Week!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Keep your food safe when the power is out

Today’s guest blog post is by Chrystal Okonta, who is with the Department of Food Safety Education at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. 

Infographic courtesy USDA 
This week, we say hello to spring and goodbye to winter! Many of us have begun tucking away our winter gear. But unlike heavy coats, you cannot put away your emergency preparedness tips. While snowstorms have passed, we have welcomed March winds and April showers.

Every season can cause a disaster. A rainy day could turn into a flood. Heavy wind could blow out your power. Without electricity, your fridge and freezer food could spoil. Lights out can be scary when you don’t know how to keep your food safe. Never fear! You can take steps to avoid food spoilage and reduce foodborne illness. Follow these tips before, during and after a storm or power outage.

• Before the storm

Check your temperatures: Put appliance thermometers in your fridge and freezer. Set your refrigerator to 40 degrees or colder. Your freezer should be 0 degrees or below. If the power goes out, you’ll know if your food is at the right temperature.

Empty your fridge and stock your freezer: During a power outage, the freezer keeps food safe much longer than the fridge. You can put almost anything in the freezer — meat and poultry, dairy, even leftovers!

Make ice in advance: Ice keeps food colder longer. Stock your freezer with containers filled with water, ice trays or ice packs. Also, know where you can buy extra ice if yours starts to melt.

Stock up on nonperishable items: When you don’t have power, nonperishable foods can get you through the storm. There are even recipes that don’t need power! Make sure to store your items in a cool, dry place. Keep them above any potential flooding levels.

• During the storm

Check those temperatures — again! Your refrigerator will only keep food safe under 40 degrees for about four hours without power. But a fully stocked freezer stays cold without power for about 48 hours. A half-full freezer is safe for about a day. Keep the doors shut as much as possible.

Don’t store perishable food outside: Even if it’s cold out, don’t store your food in the car, garage or basement. Instead, keep your fridge and freezer doors closed. You can also use coolers filled with ice to keep your foods below 40 degrees.

• After the storm

Once the power turns back on, check your food. Use this chart to decide which foods to keep or toss.

Refrigerated foods: Your fridge foods are safe if they have stayed below 40 degrees. Good news: Butter, cheeses, canned fruits, juices, bread products, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables are safe even if the fridge gets too warm. But meats and other dairy above 40 degrees can get you sick. Make sure you throw them out.

Freezer foods: Food with ice crystals or that has stayed below 40 degrees can be refrozen. Partially thawed ice cream or frozen yogurt cannot. Throw out unsafe dairy products to avoid getting sick.

Nonperishable foods: Don’t eat foods that touch floodwaters. Never eat food boxed in cardboard if it got wet. Canned goods are safe even in flooding if they are not damaged. Throw away cans that are leaking or damaged.

Use bleach to sanitize cans that touch floodwaters. Mix one tablespoon of unscented bleach with a gallon of water. Take off the can labels and rinse your cans with the bleach solution. Once they dry, these canned foods are safe to eat.

For more tips from food safety experts, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. Information is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.
You can also email or chat via Ask Karen in English or Pregúntele a Karen en Español.

You, too, can stay food safe during severe weather and power outages!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Raw milk: It’s not worth the risk

By Debora Cartagena, courtesy CDC.
Trying new, trendy foods can be fun. They can even be more healthy than the things you eat every day. But when it comes to raw milk, public health officials warn you could be putting your health and life at risk.

Some people think raw milk is better for them, but they’re wrong. Raw milk is dangerous. The problem is that raw milk isn’t pasteurized. During pasteurization, milk is heated to a high temperature, killing off disease-carrying germs. When milk isn’t pasteurized, germs don’t die. And then you can get sick.

Over a 19-year period, there were almost 130 diseases outbreaks linked to raw milk in the U.S. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was looking into cases of Brucellosis in people who consumed raw milk from a farm in Pennsylvania. Caused by the bacteria Brucella, the infectious disease comes from animals and can make people very sick.

Other nasty things that can be swimming around in your glass of raw milk include E. coli and Listeria. The germs can get into milk through animal feces, rodents and dirty equipment.

Anyone can get sick from raw milk and its products, such as raw ice cream or raw cheese. The risk is highest for young children, seniors and people with weak immune systems. But CDC says that healthy people of any age can get very sick and die from contaminated raw milk.

So now you know: Raw milk is gross and unsafe. What can you do to avoid it? Look for milk products that are labeled “pasteurized” to make sure they’re safe. Don’t assume that because milk is labeled organic that it’s OK. It still needs to be pasteurized. If you’re not sure a milk product is pasteurized, don’t eat or drink it.

Once you bring your dairy products home, keep them refrigerated at 40 degrees or below. And be sure to toss any expired products.

For more FAQs on raw milk, visit CDC’s website.