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Archive for the ‘Emergency Preparedness’ Category

2014/2015 Disaster Preparedness Award Recipient

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

NOAA image of a hurricane on the Texas coast

The NN/LM SCR is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2014-2015 Disaster Preparedness Award:

Institution: Texas Area Health Education Center East – Greater Houston Region
Project TitleHurricane Education through Library Preparedness (HELP)
Project Director: Alexander Reyna

The project will train public library staff to respond effectively in the event of a natural disaster and also provide disaster preparedness toolkits for dissemination at the library branch. The library will be promoted as an emergency resource center and a community preparedness event will be held in addition to ongoing information sessions during hurricane season.

Congratulations to Alex and the Greater Houston Region AHEC!

More information on all NN/LM SCR Funded Projects are available at our Previously Funded Projects website.

Disaster Health Information Outreach Funding Opportunity Available from NLM

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Hand holding money on laptop screen

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) announces a funding opportunity for small projects to improve access to disaster medicine and public health information for health care professionals, first responders and others that play a role in health-related disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

NLM is soliciting proposals from partnerships in the U.S. that include at least one library and at least one organization that has disaster-related responsibilities, such as health departments, public safety departments, emergency management departments, pre-hospital and emergency medical services, fire/rescue, or other local, regional, or state agencies with disaster health responsibilities; hospitals; faith-based and voluntary organizations active in disaster; and others.

NLM encourages submission of innovative proposals that enhance mutually beneficial collaboration among libraries and disaster-related agencies. For example, projects may increase awareness of health information resources, demonstrate how libraries and librarians can assist planners and responders with disaster-related information needs, show ways in which disaster workers can educate librarians about disaster management, and/or include collaboration among partners in developing information resources that support planning and response to public health emergencies.

Contract awards will be offered for a minimum of $15,000 to a maximum of $30,000 each for a one-year project.

The deadline for proposals is Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 5 pm ET.

For more information and instructions about the “Disaster Health Information Outreach and Collaboration Project 2014”  and summaries of the previous years’ funded projects, visit the NLM Disaster Information Management Resource Center website.


Social Media for Crisis Communications

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Last week hosted a free webinar devoted to social media communication use in crisis situations. Social Media for Crisis Communication; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly presenter Nicole Stillwell from the United States Department of State provided ten best practices for using social media during a crisis. In this presentation Stillwell presented a crisis as not only a natural disaster or unexpected event but also a public relations crisis.

An overview of the 10 best practices for the use of social media include:

  1. Cease Normal Operations – Halt any scheduled posts that were to be sent out once a crisis has been identified. Sending scheduled messages can make your organization appear uncaring of unaware of a crisis event.
  2. Acknowledge the situation immediately – Being a leader in the face of a crisis is important to earning and keeping your organization’s credibility. Acknowledging a situation as soon as it happens, even if it is a public relations related crisis, is best.
  3. Get your message to as many platforms as possible – Consider the use of new Twitter alerts to help send your messages out to the widest possible audience. Post messages about the event through all social media channels your organization uses.
  4. Be prepared to address vulnerabilities – Crises can bring increased attention to social media accounts. Be prepared to address or report hacking, bugs, or glitches.
  5. Find the right balance – Don’t change the content of a message, only edit so that is appropriate for social media or link to full or detailed information if necessary. Ensure that staff can continue operational tasks while balancing with social media content delivery.
  6. Don’t participate in a conversation when your brand doesn’t belong – Trying to insert your organization’s name into a conversation using hashtags to capitalize on publicity is not appropriate.
  7. Don’t feed the trolls – Social media accounts are seen by the public as the official voice of the organization. Engaging in debates with or getting defensive about comments to your social media accounts can be viewed negatively. Stay professional.
  8. Correct; don’t delete – If something has gone wrong on any of the social media accounts you manage don’t delete the posts or accounts. Deleting information or an account is viewed as suspect behavior and may harm your organization’s credibility.
  9. Listen to your audience – Social media outlets may provide your organization with unfiltered information from witness. Be sure to listen but also verify information through community managers.
  10. If you have to disengage; say so – If you are unable to updated a social media account for your organization as the result of a crisis, perhaps staff are needed elsewhere or our organization must close, provide a public statement on social media outlets with information about what is going on and when you expect to begin updating the account again.

Social media is an empowering tools that connects organizations and the public, often times to vital information. Proper use of social media in a crisis can ensure that your organization remains a credible source for information. provides free webinars and recordings on a variety of technology topics. Visit the DigitalGov University Course Catalog for a full list of topics.

Social Media Icons

Protecting Your Pets During a Disaster

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Emergency worker carrying puppy

At the beginning of hurricane season, we mentioned some resources to help prepare for the worst but in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency situation, it’s also important to have an emergency plan in place for pets!

The American Red Cross recommends taking the following steps to ensure pet safety during a disaster:

Keep your pet’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be easily accessed and carried (a duffle bag or covered trash containers, for example). Your pet emergency preparedness kit should include:

• Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit.
• Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
• Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
• Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener.
• Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
• Pet bed or toys if easily transportable.

It’s also important to remember that should the need to evacuate arise, plan to take your pet with you or board them somewhere safe. Be sure to become familiar with nearby evacuation shelters that allow you to bring animals and be aware of the health risks involved when sheltering somewhere that allows a large number of animals and people in one location (See link to CDC’s Animals in Public Evacuation Centers).

For more information and resources:

American Red Cross – Plan and Prepare – Pets:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Animals in Public Evacuation Centers: – Make a Plan – Caring for Animals:

Disaster Information Management Resource Center – Disasters – Animals in Disasters:

Developing a Disaster Supplies Kit

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Emergency checklist

As part of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross has created a great video with tips on what to include in a disaster supplies kit (along with good examples of what should be left out!): The Kit You Don’t Want to Have: National Preparedness Month.

Even though the video takes a humorous approach to educating the public, it also does a good job of highlighting the importance of being prepared. Although the contents of a disaster supplies kit may vary, depending on the type of disaster common to your geographical area, there are some basic supplies every kit should include:

  • Water— a good, general rule of thumb is one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food— the best foods to add to your kit are non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries—these should be of various sizes, depending on the items for which you need them
  • First aid kit – items in a first aid kid can vary; for a good break down of what you should include, see the Red Cross’ Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and any accompanying medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers (including car chargers, if you have them)
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area—don’t rely on your cell phone or GPS device for this! During a disaster or emergency situation, internet access and connectivity is limited and may not be available to you.

When putting together your disaster supplies kit, be sure that you put into consideration the needs of every family member–including babies and pets! If you know that you might be hosting friends and family during a disaster, keep that in mind as well when purchasing/storing water and food. For more ideas and resources on putting together a disaster kit, see the list below.

American Red Cross – Plan and Prepare – Get a Survival Kit : (Federal Emergency Management Agency) – Build a Kit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Gather Emergency Supplies:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Information for Pregnant Women:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Disaster Preparedness for your Pet:  as well as a checklist of items for a kit (cat and dog):

Are you ready?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Wet Cat

This September marks the 10-year-anniversary of National Preparedness Month (NPM)! Since its inception in 2004, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has partnered with other government organizations (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in an effort to encourage communities and individuals to be prepared for the worst in emergency situations.

As one part of FEMA’s NPM initiative, the National Preparedness Community website offers a multitude of resources for users and community members. Included on the website is a tool-kit with marketing information and a comprehensive list of NPM videos, PDFs, and webpages. In addition, users can use the National Preparedness Community website to find NPM events happening in their area or register for free with the community and access additional resources, such as discussion forums and region-specific activity.

In addition to the National Preparedness Community website, the American Public Health Association (APHA) will be celebrating Get Ready Day on September 17th as part of NPM. The Get Ready website contains many fun and education resources for a variety of users and communities. These resources include factsheets, videos, podcasts, and other disaster preparedness-themed media for marketing use.


Additional information on National Preparedness Month can be found on these websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Be Ready! :

National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management and Resource Center homepage :

APHA Get Ready : (from FEMA) :

Mobile Devices Transform Disaster Relief

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Man on cell phone in flood

As reliance on and use of mobile devices continues to grow worldwide, the use of these devices to aid in disaster recovery and relief efforts is becoming more commonplace. Earlier this month the Center for Technology and Innovation at the Brookings Institute released the report “How Mobile Devices Are Transforming Disaster Relief and Public Safety” which provides a more in-depth assessment of how mobile devices and mobile technology are transforming disaster relief and public safety.

Mobile devices including smart phones and tablets are enabling both the general public and emergency responders to stay connected to important information in times of crisis. According to the report mobile devices provide early warning systems, aid in the coordination or emergency response, and improve public communications.

The report provides real world situational examples of how mobile technology has been used in response to natural disasters such as earthquakes and as well as for emergency preparedness. According tot he report, mobile devices are also playing an important role in alerting the public to events such as terrorist attacks and shooting incidents. The report includes examples of smartphone applications that have been created to help individuals in an attack scenario find safety. The use of mobile devices for improved public safety has also led to the development and use of mobile applications for sending alerts to notify users of events happening or reported in their area.

The report includes many examples of applications and uses of mobile technology for emergency preparedness, disaster recovery, emergency education, alert systems, and other forms of communication. The global reach of mobile devices continues to transform disaster response efforts around the world.

Surviving the Swelter

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Thermometer and Sun According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat kills an average of 1,500 people a year in the US—a number higher than any other weather-related event.  The Red Cross defines some terms that you may hear regularly during hot weather months:

  • Excessive Heat Watch – Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
  • Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

During times of extreme heat everyone–but especially infants, children and adults over the age of 65–are at an increased risk of suffering from a heat-related illness. Some of the most common include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (or sunstroke).

So what can you do to stay safe during the hot weather?

For more information about extreme heat safety, visit the following:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention site on Extreme Heat Emergency Preparedness and Response

Environmental Protection Agency’s Excessive Heat Events Guidebook

NOAA Tips for Staying Healthy and Cool During the Summer

National Weather Service/NOAA page on Heat (including heat index numbers and information)


Disaster Preparedness Comics

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Cover of Eye Over Houston comic

Looking for a new way to get the word out on disaster preparedness? The National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) and  the Public Health – Seattle & King County Advanced Practice Center have created the Survivor Tales series; three short comic books featuring real-life stories from natural disaster survivors. These three comics (all illustrated by David Lasky) cover preparedness and recovery stories for three different natural disasters including hurricanes (titled Eye Over Houston), flooding (titled In Deep Water), and earthquakes (titled Aftershocks). Listed after each story is more information on disaster preparedness, including emergency kit basics, creating a plan, and getting involved.

The goals and objectives of this project (as found on the NACCHO site) are as follows:

• Engage adults and youth in emergency preparedness through a compelling visual style and narrative that highlight positive messages of resilience, community support, and the benefits of preparedness.
• Provide basic information about emergency preparedness and specific hazards in a pictorial format that is more accessible and appealing to lower literacy and immigrant populations.
• Illustrate real-life disasters to help readers anticipate how a disaster might play out and determine what they need to be ready.

In order to access these comics, an account must be created on the NACCHO site. Users can register for an account for free (please note that an account on the website is not the same as membership to NACCHO) by selecting the “Sign In” button in the top right-hand corner and then choosing the “Create Account” option. Once the account is created,  the comics will be available to download.



May 26 to June 1 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

National Hurricane Preparedness Week banner

With hurricane season around the corner (June 1-November 30), it’s as important as ever to be prepared and have a plan! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an active to extremely active 2013 season for the Atlantic region with a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). It’s important to remember that hurricanes are multifaceted storms and not only bring rain and strong winds but also prolonged rain that leads to flooding as well as the possibility of tornadoes.

To help you plan and be ready in case of a hurricane or hurricane related disaster, here are some useful resources: