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.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Attention: It’s almost time to set your clocks and check your stocks!

This Sunday, March 10, we lose an hour of time. But what we shouldn’t lose is our sense of feeling prepared.

You can be ready when emergencies happen by keeping a stockpile. When you set your clock — or it automatically resets — for daylight saving time, use it as a reminder to check your emergency supplies. That way, you won’t be missing important items when you really need them.

Get Ready’s Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign helps you keep your supplies updated. Follow our three easy steps twice a year when checking your stockpile:

  • Second, replenish supplies that are out of date or missing. We’re all guilty of “borrowing” supplies from our stockpile. So make sure you replace anything you took out. If your food is going to expire soon, use it. Then, put in new nonperishable items. Toss the supplies that are already expired or damaged. Don’t forget to replace them! 
  • Third, store supplies in an easily accessible container. Store everything in one spot that you can get to easily. Make sure it’s a cool, dry place. You can also store supplies outside the home. Keep a go-bag at work, school and in your car. Remember to check your go-bag when you set your clock as well! 

Get more tips and resources to share in your community.