The following page provided by the CDC gives a glimpse, from a different perspective from what is available via the media, of what conditions are like in Haiti. As an example of how to help people be prepared to deal with a disaster, it is comprehensive yet to-the-point. The information is updated daily. Please see “Guidance for Relief Workers and Others Traveling to Haiti for Earthquake Response” at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/news-announcements/relief-workers-haiti.aspx.
Another aspect of this disaster that becomes clear from reading this preparedness document is that this earthquake, as have other natural disasters, has left in its wake almost every other type of emergency imaginable, from health-related (injuries, infections, death, sanitation), through environmental (insects, airborne infectious agents, unstable buildings, impassable roadways), toxic/hazmat incidents (broken water, gas and chemical pipes, mold growth), to violent incidents arising from the effects of the devastation in the area.
The flu.gov website provided by CDC has recently added content specifically about planning for H1N1 during this season of influenza. Among the many target audience groups they address are “Small Businesses” and “Institutions of Higher Education” (IHEs). While many of us are involved at IHEs, the information in that section is directed mostly to those who are preparing for implementation of policy, for managing student health, facilities maintenance, etc. The “Small Business” information, however, can apply very well to libraries, which are anticipating staff shortages and some impact to their day-to-day operations. In the section on “How to Write Your Plan,” there is some excellent guidance to help prepare for personnel issues that may arise when staff are ill or are caring for family members who are ill. The CDC recommends that anyone who has had any type of flu stay home for at least 24 hours after body temperature has returned to normal without the aid of fever-reducing medications, and they are anticipating that most people who become ill will be absent from work or school for 7 to 10 days. Something to think about!
The Toolkit has a new page to assist libraries taking part in pandemic planning. The page (click here to view) contains links to the CDC’s H1N1 site (including a link to follow the CDC Twitter content), as well as to several Word documents that contain information about pandemic planning, some service continuity issues that libraries may need to address, and a sample table-top exercise that can be used to assist in pandemic planning.
The focus of some of the content of the page is on academic health sciences libraries, but the content can be adapted to suit the needs of other types of libraries or institutions. We will continue to develop the page, adding relevant content as it emerges.
The CDC is updating this site http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/ frequently at this point, in order to help everyone stay current with the swine flu situation. See the “CDC Health Advisory” on this page for the most current information. I heard on NPR today that Mexico has closed churches, schools, concert halls, and other public spaces to try and slow the spread of the disease. Should these social-distancing measures be enacted for public spaces, including libraries in the U.S., be aware of measures that libraries can take to keep resources and core services available to their patrons even if their buildings are closed. Have an alternate home page ready, to show altered hours, to highlight online resources, and to offer online chat services to patrons who need help. Also remember to change the voice mail message on your library’s main telephone to reflect changed hours and availability of online resources and services.
Here is more information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, available on their Pandemic Flu web site: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/ The Swine Flu Info widget from HHS is available there to be copied into web pages–this will provide quick access to “Information,” “Investigation,” and “What you can do” sources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site now displays a “Report an Emergency” button on each page within its “Emergency Preparedness and Response” section. Clicking there reveals a page that provides several options for obtaining health-related information in an emergency. Their recommendation to the general public is to call “911.” However, they offer a 24/7 direct telephone number to their Emergency Operations Center, for use by state and federal agencies, but also for physicians who may need information related to emergency patient care. As part of our emergency preparedness planning activities, we can add this resource to those we recommend to our clientele, especially since it is available 365/24/7.
As winter bids us farewell with a few inches of snow and sub-freezing temperatures (increasingly rare here in central Virginia), we note that the likelihood of tornadoes will be increasing as the weather turns warmer. As they say, there is no real tornado “season,” because one can happen any time and in any place, but we see that internet searchers are looking for information on tornado preparedness more often now, so here is some information that we hope will be helpful in preparing for the tumultuous spring weather than can give birth to tornadoes and other severe storms.
Many states will be running tornado preparedness drills in March. Here’s the Virginia site that lists information about the state-wide drill on March 17, as well as how to run a tornado drill. Check out the information on the page about how to find the safest place inside your building to shelter from a tornado.
NOAA weather radios are wonderful to have in your building if you are in an area that is particularly vulnerable to servere storms, or you just want to keep in touch with weather events. They are available with a range of features and at a price range from $25 and up, from a variety of sources. (Amazon lists many models and prices.) Ours has alerted us several times to thunderstorms in the summer, which helped us to be prepared for possible power disruptions and wind/water damage. The NOAA radios receive information continuously from the National Weather Service, and you can set them to sound an alert to your specific area so that the alarm doesn’t sound more often than necessary. Best wishes to everyone for a safe and happy spring season!