Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) health security plans are designed to effectively monitor for disease, equip diagnostic laboratories, and support mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world.
“It appears the main concern is the virus’ serious birth defects of the brain,” reports Dr. Somarju. This is a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. It may also cause other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with the Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):
Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
Women who are trying to become pregnant:Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
“The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) usually 2-7 days after being bit by the Zika infected mosquito,” Dr. Somaraju states. “The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick.” For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We do not know how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found, who has not already been infected with Zika virus, is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.
Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. If traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated travel information.
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infection. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
“Zika is not a new virus. Outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands,” Dr. Somaraju adds. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas.
The CDC reports that with the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika virus disease cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These imported cases may result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. CDC has been monitoring these epidemics and is prepared to address cases imported into the United States and cases transmitted locally. You can review more information on http://www.cdc.gov/
What’s New: The 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards
Have you heard? The FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards are back! There are three new categories to highlight even more of the actions you take to make your communities safer, better prepared, and more resilient. Take a look below to learn more about the new categories and a few others.
Outstanding Inclusive Initiatives in Emergency Management (new)
Presented to an organization, program, or jurisdiction that has excelled in working with populations that are disproportionately impacted by disasters due to risks associated with economic status, limited English proficiency, cultural diversity, or access and functional needs in order to better prepare them for disasters.
Outstanding Private Sector Initiatives (new)
This award is presented to a small business that has demonstrated outstanding creativity and made a measurable impact in engaging employees and local communities to improve disaster preparedness and resilience. “Small business” applicants must comply with business size standards provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
America’s PrepareAthon! in Action (new)
Presented to an organization or community that has implemented a registered America’s PrepareAthon! event using America’s PrepareAthon! resources, which incorporates specific actions taken by individuals to strengthen preparedness and resilience in the face of disasters. Activities may include any of the America’s PrepareAthon! 10 Ways to Participate or other initiatives, which showcase individual preparedness.
Outstanding Citizen Corps Council
Presented to a Citizen Corps Council (community, county, regional, territory, tribal, or state) that demonstrates whole community collaboration to achieve innovative and sustainable practices in emergency management to make the jurisdiction safer, stronger, better prepared, and more resilient.
Outstanding Citizen Corps Partner Program
Presented to a Citizen Corps Partner Program that demonstrates excellence and innovation in achieving the program’s mission. Eligible programs include Fire Corps, Neighborhood Watch, Medical Reserve Corps, Community Emergency Response Team, and Volunteers in Police Service. Volunteer recruitment and sustainment, capacity building, and return on investment are factors for evaluation.
Presented for creative and effective use of current technology, newly developed technology, or social media that improves the ability of individuals and communities to prepare for, respond to, or recover from disasters.
Throughout the awards application period, the FEMA eBrief will showcase past winners.
In 2015, FEMA recognized the collaborative work of three programs in the New York City Emergency Management’s Community Outreach Unit – Ready New York, NYC Citizen Corps, and the NYC Community Emergency Response Team. To help immigrant and limited English proficiency communities during disaster, the three programs worked together to provide customized tools and information to millions of New Yorkers with limited English proficiency. From distributing preparedness toolkits to producing a film for an Emmy award-winning series, the programs created a successful outreach model for individual emergency preparedness education that addresses the needs of communities that are often difficult to reach.
Webinar: Community Discussion: 2016 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards Overview
On Tuesday, March 15, FEMA will host a webinar providing an overview of the 2016 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards and highlighting the benefits of winning this prestigious honor. This webinar will also feature past winners who will discuss how the awards impacted their programs and communities.
Deadline Extension for Youth Preparedness Council Applications
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is extending the deadline for Youth Preparedness Council applications to Sunday, March 20, 11:59 p.m. PDT, due to numerous requests. FEMA will also accept applications for students currently in 8th, 9th, or 10th grade that are engaged in individual and community preparedness, or have experienced a disaster that motivated him or her to make a positive difference in their community.
Youth interested in applying to the Council must submit a completed application form, two letters of recommendation, and academic records. Specific information about completing and submitting the application and attachments can be found in the application instructions. All applications and supporting materials must be received no later than March 20, 2016, 11:59 p.m. PDT in order to be eligible. New Youth Preparedness Council members will be announced in May 2016.
Buncombe County Holds North Carolina’s First PrepareAthon! Event
On Wednesday, March 9, Buncombe County will host an America’s PrepareAthon! event – becoming the first county in North Carolina to do so.
The Department of Emergency Services of Buncombe County (EMS) will hold a county-wide tornado drill in coordination with North Carolina’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. On the day of the drill, more than 20,000 students and employees in Buncombe County and the City of Asheville schools and government offices, The Biltmore Group LLC, Ingles Markets, and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will practice going to their protective location.
The day will kick off with a media event at the EMS office. Following the media event, Biltmore Estate employees will move to their designated safe area as part of the tornado drill.
The National Weather Service will simulate a tornado warning using its routine weekly test for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio network. Students and school faculty also plan to participate in the drill and will immediately move to their designated safe areas and crouch with their hands over their heads until school officials announce the all-clear. City of Asheville employees will practice going to the location that provides the highest available level of protection. The day’s drill will conclude at Ingles Markets.
Buncombe County residents can also register for the county’s notification system, Nixle, to receive emergency alerts and other official announcements. Text BCALERT to 88877 to begin receiving the county's text notifications.
Webinar: Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Outreach and Promotion
On Thursday, March 10, FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division invites you to a webinar featuring several local Community Emergency Response Team programs that developed creative methods to connect with their communities. The webinar will focus on the rewarding and challenging work of CERT programs to increase awareness and conduct promotional activity.
Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newslettersby contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow #natlprep on Twitter for more tips and info about National Preparedness Month.
1. Know what you’ll face
Raining giant meatballs = probably unlikely.
Part of preparation is knowing exactly what kind of disasters you might face and knowing what to do in each situation. Living in Montana? You probably don’t need to worry about hurricanes. California? Better be ready for an earthquake, but don’t overlook your chances of severe weather or pandemic flu. If you can’t think of all the possibilities, here’s a handy list from the Red Cross. If you think you live in a disaster-free zone, you’re probably wrong.
2. Learn your area’s evacuation routes and shelter locations
Graceful home evacuation.
The time to figure these things out isn’t while a hurricane is bearing down on your home, or after a tsunami warning has been issued. Evacuations are actually pretty common, so it will serve you well to know the details ahead of time. You should also know the escape routes from your own home, including the more obscure ones, like out that ground-level window in your bathroom. If you have kids, draw them a map and post it near their door. You should also plan where your family will regroup if you must evacuate your house. Pick one location right outside your home, and one outside the neighborhood, in case you must leave the area. Decide ahead of time where you would go in case of an evacuation, whether its a friend’s or relative’s house or a Red Cross shelter.
3. Know how you’ll reconnect with people who matter
Not a valid communication plan.
If cell networks aren’t working, you don’t just need to worry about how your Netflix stream will be affected. Consider how you will contact your family or your roommates. How will you let others know you are alright? Figuring this out ahead of time can make everything so much easier in a difficult situation. The Red Cross recommends using an out-of-area emergency contact to have family members check in with, since it may be easier to make long distance calls. Everyone should also have a list of emergency contacts and local emergency numbers.
4. Sign up for emergency alerts and know how officials will communicate with you during a disaster
You can get these on your cell phone, if you haven’t disabled them already. We know the blaring noise overtaking the silent mode on your phone can be annoying, but this is probably the best way to learn about emergencies if you are constantly attached to your phone. The emergency alert system also broadcasts over the radio and television, and NOAA weather radio can tell you if severe weather is expected 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tune in on social media as well, but don’t expect to rely on it exclusively as you may not keep your Internet connection in an emergency.
5. Learn what to do if you’re caught away from home
Obviously you may not be at home when disaster strikes. In the case of an unexpected emergency, you should be prepared to react from different locations, including your workplace or car. Most of this is pretty basic stuff — again, know your evacuation routes, communication plan and how you’ll receive emergency notification. Have a plan for reconnecting with kids who may be at school, daycare or after-school activities. Talk to schools to see how they will communicate with families in an emergency, if they have a shelter-in-place plan and where they will go if they are forced to evacuate.
6. Have a kit and know how to use it
Ok, we’re not talking full-on doomsday prepper status here. We’re talking about some basic necessities. This includes food, water, basic first aid supplies and other emergency equipment that you might already have (think flashlights and duct tape). Check out this full list by FEMA for tips. The key is to have this assembled and ready to use, not scattered all over your house. Make sure everything is in working order and that no one sneaks snacks from your finished kit. Some kits are available for purchase pre-packed, but remember, if you don’t know how to use what you have, it could be useless.
7. Keep in mind people who may need special preparation
Kids, infants, people with disabilities and seniors may all need special considerations while planning for an emergency. If you or a family member need medication or special equipment, make sure you have a plan to bring it with you. Talk to your neighbors about how you can help one another in a disaster, and check on each other in case of an emergency.
8. Prepare for your pets
The goal of emergency preparedness is to keep the whole family safe — and that includes our pets. If you need to evacuate, you should never leave your pet behind. Try to evacuate to a friend or family member’s house, as pets may not be allowed inside public shelters. Keep a pet emergency kit on hand with food and other important items. The ASPCA recommends microchipping pets so they can be identified and returned to you even without tags (or you may want to invest in a GPS tracker so you can find them yourself). The ASPCA app also helps you keep track of animal records required to board pets at an emergency shelter and has other helpful tips for a variety of situations.
9. Learn emergency skills that can always come in handy
Note: Image does not represent proper use of a fire extinguisher.
Make sure you know little things that can make a huge difference, like how to use a fire extinguisher or perform basic first aid. Get trained in CPR or the even simpler hands-only CPR, which could help save someone’s life even when you least expect it. You can also learn how to shut off utilities in your house in case of a disaster that may damage gas, water or electrical lines.
10. Find out how to help your community during a disaster
Volunteer firefighters are trained to respond to all sorts of emergencies
This is not a catch-all list. For more information visit ready.gov, redcross.org or your local emergency preparedness site.
Research shows it takes 72 hours after a disaster for help to reach you. Seventy-two hours is a long time to be without the comforts/necessities of our daily lives - electricity, water, food, warmth. Florida is prone to several types of disasters such as hurricans, tornadoes, floods, fires. We don't want to think about any one of these occurring in our area, but, if it should, you should be ready. Have a plan that includes your evacuation route, shelter locations, pet care, call list, disaster kit. This page will give you information on what to have on hand to help you survive for those 72 hours, links to resources and information. Click on any one of the topics below to see if you are prepared.
Diseases are another form of disaster. Be aware of the symptoms of those diseases that affect many people in a short period of time, sometimes an epidemic. While doctors and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) work dilligently to control these diseases, each of us should make ourselves familiar with the symptoms and, if present or suspected, seek medical assistance as quickly as possible.