Don’t panic

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Tuesday, April 8: Don’t Panic

Public health professionals help communities withstand the impact of a natural or man-made disaster by planning ahead, acting as a source of information during the crisis and helping to mitigate the long- and short-term effects. During NPHW 2014, share tips for disaster preparedness with your community so they can take steps at home to plan ahead for the unexpected. Visit APHA's Get Ready campaign to learn more and help Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies.

Did you know?

  • Emergency preparedness is not only for Californians, Midwesterners and Gulf Coast residents. Most communities may be affected by several types of hazards during a lifetime. Americans also travel more than ever before to areas with different hazard risks than at home. [1]
  • Every year, thousands of people are affected by severe weather threats, such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Preliminary data for 2012 shows there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries. [2]
  • Each year, more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually. Home fires can be prevented! [3]
  • Oftentimes, we may not realize that our actions online might put us, our families and even our country at risk. Learning about the dangers online and taking action to protect ourselves is the first step in making the Internet a safer place for everyone. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we all have a role to play. [4]
  • Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. [5]

Start Here:

  • Gather your household for a night of emergency preparedness: make plans for putting together an emergency stockpile kit, create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and hold household emergency drills.
  • Educate your community about disaster alerts that they can receive on their cell phones from government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • All Americans should have at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in their homes, with at least one gallon of water per person per day and a week’s supply of food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Help your community understand how to develop and maintain an emergency stockpile with resources such as http://www.ready.gov/ and APHA's Get Ready.
  • Spread the word about emergency preparedness at your child's school, your parents' retirement community and the other places you spend time. Volunteer to help these places assess their readiness and start planning.
  • Promote awareness of how local public health systems keep communities healthy at home, such as keeping our food and water safe. Encourage residents and leaders to take a moment to imagine how dramatically our lives would change if that system disappeared. Let your key decision-makers know that you support public health and prevention.
  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step toward protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year – the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.


[1] Be Informed, FEMA Factsheet, http://www.ready.gov/be-informed

[2] Severe Weather Factsheet, FEMA, http://www.ready.gov/severe-weather

[3] Fires Factsheet, FEMA, http://www.ready.gov/fires

[4] Cyber Attack Factsheet, FEMA, http://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack

[5] Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine, CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm