September is National Preparedness Month. All this month, the Office of Public Health Preparedness will be spotlighting simple steps and tips to help you and your loved ones prepare in the event of an emergency. The new “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign encourages the whole community to work together to be more prepared. You can start doing your part to build a more resilient Boston by sharing this important information on Facebook and Twitter and taking the Pledge to Prepare.
This week, we are focusing on the Stay Healthy part of the campaign by highlighting ways you can remain healthy before, during, and after an emergency. Below are tips and tricks to help you take control of your everyday health and stay connected with your community. To learn more about National Preparedness Month and the “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign, visit our previous blog post.
Emergencies of any size can be harmful to you and your loved ones’ physical, mental, and spiritual health. Luckily, there are many ways you can prepare yourself for an emergency to make sure that you, and those around you, remain healthy before, during, and after an emergency strikes. Actions as simple as finding a routine and connecting with others can help you during an emergency. The healthier you are before a disaster, the more likely you are to get through the disaster. Below is a series of advice on how you can take control of your everyday health, stay connected, and make sure you know when to seek help.
Take Control of Your Everyday Health
Develop routines that support your everyday health. Even during stressful moments, it’s important to try to maintain your normal routines, especially during emergencies that may require you to stay indoors for an extended period of time. Maintaining normal routines (to the best extent possible) can also help ease children’s anxiety and minimize stress reactions. Some of the ways you can take control of your health include:
- Finding an exercise routine that you enjoy and engaging in it regularly – click here to learn more about Boston Moves for Health.
- Maintaining healthy eating habits
- Getting your recommended vaccinations, including your annual flu shot – click here to visit the Boston Public
Health Commission’s Flu Page
- Managing your chronic illness by regularly visiting your physician and taking your prescribed medications
- Participating in or leading activities with close family and friends
- Maintaining your emotional health through yoga, meditation or your faith and spiritual connections
Be a Preparedness Role Model
Be a positive role model. During emergencies, children look up to parents and caregivers for guidance. Encourage your children and loved ones to ask questions about preparedness and emergency planning. Answering their questions can help minimize confusion and decrease anxiety and stress.
Help others prepare. Readiness extends beyond the household and is very much a community activity. A great way to help neighbors, family and friends better cope after a disaster is to help them create an emergency plan ahead of time. Show an older adult or family member how to text their emergency contact or use social media to check in with loved ones. A simple “I’m OK” message can go a long way in easing additional anxiety and stress. When landlines are down or cell phones are overwhelmed, this might be the only way to communicate with others.
Take our online course. Interested in taking a short class about community preparedness? The DelValle Institute for Emergency Preparedness has a free, online course that can guide you and your family members through preparing for an emergency. Click here to get started.
Get and Stay Connected
Get to know your neighbors. Introducing yourself to your neighbors and discussing your needs and emergency plans with each other will help you when an event happens, large or small. Check in on them before, during, and/or after emergencies to make sure they are okay.
Join community organizations. Joining organizations or programs that keep you plugged in to what is happening in your community can help you stay connected. Encourage organizations in your professional and community life to join the Boston Health Resilience Network (BHRN), and encourage them to discuss their own preparedness, their staff’s preparedness, and their understanding of how the City of Boston supports its residents during an emergency.
Know When to Seek Support
The unpredictable nature of disasters has the potential to cause varying levels of emotional distress in those who live in and outside of the affected area. After experiencing a disaster, it may take time to bounce back–and that’s normal. If things don’t seem to be getting better, reach out for support and help through the Disaster Distress Helpline, 24/7/365, by calling 1-800-985-5990.