Hurricanes + Gulf Oil Spill

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have added some timely and helpful information to their emergency preparedness pages, one topic being the conjunction of the oil spill currently endangering the ocean and coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico and and the onset of hurricane season.  Check out their “Hurricanes” page for updated information on safety issues and recommended actions.

The following image is from topnews.in/health/files/Gulf-oil-spill.jpg, accessed July 26, 2010.

H1N1 Planning Info from CDC

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!

Pandemic Planning Page

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.

Advancing the Standard for Service Continuity

Recently, Dan has made two presentations, as an invited speaker, that featured the importance of service continuity planning for libraries, and in both cases he used the scenario of social distancing in response to the H1N1 influenza virus (see info from the CDC) as a basis.  Some experts are warning that H1N1 may re-surge in the northern hemisphere early this fall, well before the tradional flu season, so it’s important that we remain aware of the potential risks from a more widespread epidemic than we have seen so far, and that we keep the banner of service continuity moving forward.

On July 9, Dan addressed the monthly conference call hosted by NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), giving an overview of this year’s activities of the NN/LM’s emergency preparedness initiative, and featuring the Hospital Librarians Summit which was held in Chicago in April (click here to see the posting about this).  Other highlights of this year have been conducting training meetings with NN/LM staff and state coordinators in the PNR, SCR, GMR, PSR and SE/A regions, enhancing the Toolkit, and developing promotional materials.  Several participants on the call confirmed that the training has been very effective so far, and “buy-in” from NN/LM members has been excellent.

On July 17, Dan addressed the annual Interlibrary Loan Forum of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) at Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, VA.  Working from the NN/LM’s emergency preparedness plan, which emphasizes service continuity, especially for Interlibrary Loan services, Dan presented the procedures that have been established through a partnership between the Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for providing back-up ILL services for each other in an emergency, and which are transparent to library users.  While the audience represented all types of academic libraries in Virginia, it included several who are NN/LM members.  Click ILL Backup Plan VIVA to see Dan’s slides from the VIVA Forum.

If you would like more information about the ILL backup plan between the two libraries or about training for service continuity, please contact one of us (see the “About Us” tab at the top of the page).

CDC Info on Swine Flu

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.

Another 24/7 assistance resource

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.

Goodbye winter, hello spring!

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.

As always, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention web site offers excellent information and advice on tornadoes as part of their Emergency Preparedness and Response information, specifically their Natural Disasters and Severe Weather page.   Click on the “Tornado” link for some great information on what you should know and what to do before a tornado, during and afterwards.  For instance, what do you think is the most dangerous aspect of a tornado?  Where is the most dangerous place to be in a tornado?  The answers may surprise you!

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!

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