The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy National Public Health Week!

Monday's theme for National Public Health Week was:  Ensuring a Safe, Healthy Home for Your Family

Public health is in every corner of our homes. It's in the safe food in the fridge, the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors affixed to the ceiling, and the child-proof latches that keep dangerous chemicals out of little hands. Home is also where we learn healthy behaviors, such as eating right and exercising. Good prevention starts at home.

Did You Know?

•The majority of fire-related deaths happen at home. In 2010 in the United States, someone died in a fire every 169 minutes and someone was injured every 30 minutes. About two-thirds of home fire deaths happened in homes without working smoke alarms.
•Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people ages 65 and older. Each year, one out of every three adults ages 65 and older experiences a fall. In 2010, falls resulted in $30 billion in direct medical costs.

•Nine out of every 10 childhood poison exposures happens at home, with medications being among the top culprits.

•More than half of all swimming pool drownings among children could have been prevented with appropriate fencing that completely separates the pool from the house and yard.

•Many more efforts are needed to help all families and households adequately prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies, such as having a three-day supply of water and a written evacuation plan.
•Fewer than 15 percent of adults and 10 percent of adolescents eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables each day.

What Public Health Teaches Us

Start small...

•Smoke alarms can double your chance of surviving a fire, so install alarms on every floor of your home and test that they're working monthly. While you're at it, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every floor of your home as well
•Help prevent fires — as well as serious health problems and chronic diseases — by making your home tobacco- and smoke-free.
•Keep potentially dangerous household products, such as cleaning products, cosmetics and prescription medications, locked up and out of children's reach. Also, never store household chemicals in old food containers or in the same place you keep food items. Learn more at

•Gather your household for a night of emergency preparedness: Make plans for putting together an emergency stockpile kit, create a crisis communication plan, designate an emergency meeting place and hold household emergency drills.

•Put this number on your fridge and in your cell phone: 1-800-222-1222. It will automatically connect you to your regional poison control center and often life-saving information.

•Put up four-sided fencing that's at least five feet high with self-latching gates around swimming pools to protect children from injury

•Assess your home, or the home of a loved one, for factors that could contribute to a fall, such as poor lighting, uneven flooring and clutter.
•Stock your kitchen with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and cut down on high-sugar and high-fat items.

•Learn about proper food handling and cooking techniques to avoid food-borne illness.

•Learn how to properly dispose of unused medications.

•Tell your friends and online followers how you and your household are celebrating National Public Health Week. Keep a journal of the changes you've made on your blog or other social media accounts or send a letter to the editor to your local newspaper. Let others know how easy — and fun — it can be to make public health and prevention a part of our lives.

Think big...

•Help organize a yoga or Tai Chi class for older adults to help improve balance and prevent falls.
•Organize a community fire safety event with the local fire department.
•Get involved in community efforts addressing the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse, such as promoting drug take-back events.
•Spread the word about emergency preparedness at your children's school, your parents' retirement community and the other places you spend time. Volunteer to help these places assess their readiness and start planning.
•Promote awareness of how local public health systems keep communities healthy at home, such as keeping our food and water safe. Encourage residents and leaders to take a moment to imagine how dramatically our lives would change if that system disappeared. Let your key decision-makers know that you support public health and prevention.

There is much more you can do to ensure a safe and healthy home for you and your family. To learn more about putting prevention to work at home, visit

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