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.