Friday, July 03, 2015

Star-spangled preparedness

Summer. Charcoal. Fireworks. Freedom. 
You know what that means: It’s almost the Fourth of July! It looks like it’s going to be a hot one this year in many parts of the country.  Before you head out to celebrate, take a minute to think about how to do it safely.

Photo credit:
Know where you’re going and how long the event will last. Many events don’t allow coolers inside the grounds, so think about where you’re going to get food and water. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Also, be sure to bring insect repellents.  Hot summer nights are a mosquito’s delight.  Make sure to protect yourself from becoming their source of food.

Fourth of July celebrations can get hot, and you might spend a lot of time in the sun. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. When you think you’ve had enough, keep going. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you quickly. If you do plan to drink alcohol, have a plan to get home safely. As in, hand over the keys.

If you’ve got kids, make sure you keep them close if you’re going to be in a crowd. Pick a spot to meet up as a family in case you are separated. Know where to go in case there is an emergency. If you or anyone you’re with starts to feel sick or dizzy, ask for help. Find an event official or head to the first-aid area. You know where it is, since you found it as soon as you arrived, right?

Photo courtesy:
Remember, everyone loves to celebrate freedom. Crowds can get big and overwhelming. Having a plan and knowing how to stay calm are the best ways to be safe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find a spot away from the crowds and take a break.

And lastly, be careful with fireworks. Yes, they’re really cool. Like these! But they’re also dangerous. They literally run on gunpowder. The stuff that makes things go bang. Remember that before you light the fuse. Have a source of water nearby. Make sure anyone nearby knows when you’re lighting them, and keep people back at a safe distance.

Alright, you’re about ready to celebrate! Check out our mass event fact sheet for a few extra safety tips before you head out. Grab a bottle of water and a hat, and throw a few more hot dogs on the grill. We’ll be over soon (what, didn’t we tell you you’re hosting?)! Happy Fourth of July! 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Getting Ready for Hurricane Season

Today's post is by Hannah d'Entremont, a public relations and political science students at West Virginia University.  She's also one of APHA's summer interns!

Do you remember how bad Hurricane Katrina was? What about Hurricane Sandy? Both hurricanes — which hit New Orleans and the northeast U.S., respectively — caused a lot of damage. They also caused many preventable injuries and deaths.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic began on June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Hurricanes can be dangerous and life-threatening. So it’s important to understand ways to stay safe.

Hurricanes are rated on a scale of one through five, with one being the weakest and five being the strongest. Sandy made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane, and Katrina was a Category 3 when it hit Louisiana. But all hurricanes are dangerous, no matter their category. Strong winds and debris can cause damage to people, homes and communities.
Super-storm Sandy making landfall in the United States.
Photo credit: Rob Gutro,
Goddard Space Flight Center

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that this year’s hurricane season should include six to 11 named storms, three to six of which should become hurricanes. With that in mind, it makes sense to be prepared. Learn about your community’s hurricane warning system, evacuation routes and nearby hurricane shelters. (You should also know these things if you’re vacationing in an area at-risk for hurricanes.) Make a plan with your family. Write down emergency phone numbers and identify a meeting place in case you have to evacuate in a hurry and all family members are not together. Never ignore evacuation orders.

You should also have supplies such as food, water, medicine, safety items, personal care products and an emergency kit for your car packed and ready to go. Include paper maps in your kit in case electricity and cellphones aren’t working. Fill up your gas tank in advance if a storm is predicted to head your way.

For more hurricane tips, check out our Get Ready fact sheet on hurricanes.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Guest blog: There’s no “I” in team: Helping prepare your community for a disaster with CERT training

Today’s guest blog is by Mighty Fine, MPH, deputy director of APHA’s Center for Professional Development, Public Health Systems and Partnerships.

Photo credit: Toby Amodeo
As a member of APHA’s Get Ready team, I’m well aware of the importance of emergency preparedness. I’m not wishing for a disaster, but if one came, I’d be ready.

However, I haven’t paid close attention to the preparedness needs of my local Washington, D.C., community. So I decided to get more involved by participating in a free Community Emergency Response Team training.

Participating in this 20-hour course was a great way for me to learn basic disaster response skills and relief. The course consisted of eight units, addressing topics such as fire safety, terrorism, preparedness and psychology.

We watched informative videos, interacted with first responders, reviewed case studies and participated in demonstrations. All of our activities were done in small teams, which highlighted the importance of working together during a disaster.

The training was truly a hands-on learning experience. I rolled up my sleeves and really got into it. We learned how to make a splint to support an injured limb, which is a critical skill during an emergency, especially if supplies are limited.

We were also taught how to extinguish a fire. We learned the acronym PASS, which stands for “Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Spray.” By remembering these steps I’ll always know the proper way to use a fire extinguisher.

After taking this course I feel better positioned to help my community respond effectively to an emergency. CERT trainings are offered in communities around the U.S.  Once you’ve completed a training, you can even join a local CERT program to assist first responders in relief efforts.

Check out a training near you so you can help your community be more prepared, too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Census Bureau graphic shows Americans have room for improvement on preparedness

If disaster strikes tomorrow, where would you get your water? Nearly half of all Americans would be in trouble if their water supply was cut off in an emergency.

That’s a finding from the 2013 American Housing Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development. The survey results, released in March, found only 54 percent of Americans have a three-day supply of water in their home.

To raise awareness, the Census Bureau released a new infographic this month showing just how ready — or not — Americans are for emergencies.
Among the survey’s findings: Only about half of Americans have an emergency evacuation kit prepared, and just 37 percent have an emergency plan for dealing with disaster. No one likes to think it could happen to us. But the truth is that floods, tornadoes, diseases and more can affect all of our lives.

But the Census Bureau graphic shows that it’s not all bad news. When it comes to having food around, we’re doing really well. And a lot of our houses are clearly numbered. That makes it easier for emergency responders to find us when we need help.

It might look like a lot to think about, but it’s much easier to get ready now than during a disaster. With that in mind, here’s a checklist to help build your emergency stockpile!

Measuring America: How Ready Are We?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summertime fun means being summer safe

Summer officially begins next week on June 21. It’s a great time to get outside and get active. Whether you’re scoring winning goals on the beach or climbing mountains with friends, knowing how to be prepared during summer is helpful.

Photo courtesy of
It’s already heating up out there. Summer sun can bring sunburn, dehydration and more. Make sure you find a way to stay cool, whether that means sitting in the shade or taking a break in an air-conditioned building. Drink a lot of water, too.

Summer can also bring some extreme weather, like hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. Whether you are at home or on vacation, know the risks in your area. Keep an eye on the news and know where to go in case there is an emergency.

Summertime can do more than change the weather. Ticks and mosquitoes love the higher temps. You’re outside, they’re outside. Grab some bug spray. Make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET, and do a tick check when you get inside. Ticks and mosquitoes can carry some unpleasant diseases.  Trust us, you don’t want to know what they’re like.

And don’t forget: power outages are pretty common in summer. If there is a weather disaster in your area, check with your water company to make sure your water is safe to drink after. Keep your emergency stockpile up to date. You’ve got one of those, right? If you don’t, here’s a list to get you started.

Check out all of our Summer Safe fact sheets for more info. Simply knowing what to do and what to watch for can keep you safe. Now that you’ve got all that, get outside and enjoy the summer!