Monday, July 20, 2009

Planning for Emergencies

Every day, in every season, in every part of the country, natural and man-made emergencies can happen. What would you do? Are you and your family prepared?

If you aren't ready, you can be. But, the time to prepare is now, when there isn't an emergency situation. The government has created an easy 3 step how-to guide to get you ready. It's called Ready America and can be found at

This 3 step guide teaches you how to 1) prepare 2) plan 3) stay informed. You can print out forms to create a comprehensive family communications plan for any emergency. You can also create an email emergency plan for friends and family to share with one another.

Remember, it's important to be prepared! For example, some items Homeland Security recommends you have on hand (enough for at least 3 days):
* prescription medications
* cash
* personal hygiene products
* water
* food
For a complete list, please go to

You may never need to use your emergency supplies or plan, but being prepared will give you and your family peace of mind. Why not take a few minutes out of your busy day this week to prepare? In the event of a true emergency you will be glad you did.
Look for an expanded post on this topc in September for National Emergency Preparedness Month!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Safety Series: It's Hot!

Summer is officially here! As we go into the warmer weather, reduce your chances of spoiling your fun by learning how to recognize and prevent the risk of heat related illnesses.

Did you know that according to the National Weather Service, excessive heat is the number one weather-related killer? High temperatures causes more deaths than floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards combined.

This puts everyone at risk when it gets hotter than 90 degrees and the most vulnerable are the eldery and very young.

Do you know the signs of a heat related illness? The signs of heat exhaustion are:
* nausea
* dizziness
* flushed or pale skin
* heavy sweating
* headaches
* exhaustion

If you or someone else complains of these symptoms, the American Red Cross recommends that you move them to a cool place, give them a drink of cool water if they conscious and to place cool, wet clothes or ice packs on their skin. If the victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness call 9-1-1 immediately!

More serious is heat stroke. This is a life threatening condition. When heat stroke happens, the body stops sweating. This is not good because sweating is the body's way of cooling you down. Because you aren't sweating anymore, the body's temperature can rise very high and this can cause brain damage or even death if the body is not cooled down.

Signs of heat stroke are:
* hot, red and dry skin
* rapid, shallow breathing
* change in consciousness
* high body temperature

If someone shows the signs of heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately! While you are waiting for help to come, move the person to a cooler area. Cool them down by wrapping wet sheets or towels around them and fanning them. If you can, immerse them in a cool bath.
Watch for breathing problems. Do not give anything by mouth (food or drink) if they refuse water, vomit or lose consciousness.

More Red Cross safety tips:
* dress appropriately for hot weather by wearing light weight clothes, light colors and a hat
* drink water and keep hydrated but avoid alcohol and caffeine which dehydrate
* eat smaller meals frequently instead of heavy meals
* slow down and don't do strenuous activity or do activity during coolest parts of the day (usually morning hours 4am-7am)
* stay indoors when possible
* use air conditioning in very hot temperatures if possible
* stay out of the sunshine

* NOTE: fans do not cool, they only circulate hot air!

Remember to be a good neighbor and check on the elderly or those without air conditioning.
Summer is a time for fun and taking a few simple precautions when the temperatures soar will help you to reduce your chances of getting sick.

For more information go to:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Health Literacy

Having health literacy skills is more than understanding medical terminology. It's also about being able to navigate the health care system so you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones, being able to fill out forms, comprehending diagnosis and treatment, how to communicate with your health care professional and much more.

When was the first time you realized that health literacy skills mattered? Was it due to an event, interaction, or experience you had as a patient or by a family member or friend?

Now you can share a story to promote why health literacy is important for yourself and your loved ones. Go to the Health Literacy Month website to find how you can share your story through their website, email, twitter, facebook...