Are You Prepared For An Emergency?—January 2017

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J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 7


CDC's Emergency Partners newsletter provides updates, resources, and useful tips to subscribers interested in emergency preparedness and CDC's emergency responses.

Don't keep this great resource to yourself! Please share it with your colleagues and networks. If you would like more information on Emergency Preparedness and Response, visit CDC's Emergency Preparedness & Response website.





 See below for emergency preparedness updates, tips, and interesting facts.

Are You Prepared?

Are you prepared?

About half of U.S. adults do not have resources or plans in place for a possible emergency. If a disaster strikes in your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for several days. You may think that you will have enough time to run to the grocery store, but stores quickly sell out of important supplies following emergency warnings.

Packing an emergency supply kit can help keep you and your family prepared in the event of an emergency. 

Here are a few quick tips for packing your emergency supply kit:

  • 3-day supply of food (including utensils) and water 
  • 3-day supply of all medicines, at a minimum
  • Personal care Items (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wipes)
  • Safety supplies (first aid kit, emergency blanket, multipurpose tool, whistle)
  • Electronics (flashlight, radio, cell phone with chargers, batteries)
  • Documents (copies of insurance cards and immunization records)
  • Other important items (cash, maps, extra set of keys)

Every family is unique, so you may have emergency needs not included in this list. Be sure to update your kit to fit your family's needs. Click the image or here for more information on packing an emergency kit.


What's New for the 2016–2017 Flu Season?

doctor with older male patient


Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. A flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school due to the flu, and prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. Only injectable flu shots are recommended this season.

Click the image or here to learn more about the flu vaccines recommended for the 2016–2017 season.



Use CDC's Clear Communication Corner and CERC Corner tips to improve the clarity of your public health messages.

Clear Communication Corner

Clear Communication Index widget

Why is Clear Communication Important?

Clear communication is essential when addressing public health emergencies. According to CDC's health literacy facts, nine out of ten adults struggle to understand and use health information when it is unfamiliar, complex, or jargon-filled. Limited health literacy is a public health issue because people cannot act on messages if they do not understand them. Using plain language and easy-to-follow layouts helps the public better understand the steps they need to take to protect themselves.

What is the Clear Communication Index?

CDC’s Clear Communication Index is a tool that helps writers ensure their public health messages are clear. It uses a scoring system to rate the quality of the message’s language and presentation. It can be used to assess any type of communication, from emails to podcasts. It is available to everyone. The Index scores 20 items and provides numerical scores for four main parts:

1. Part A: Core (Main Message, Call to Action, Language, Information Design, State of the Science)

2. Part B: Behavior

3. Part C: Numbers

4. Part D: Risk

The scores for each section are combined into an average score; 90 or higher is considered passing. To use the tool, click on the widget and answer the questions in the four parts. For more information on how to use the widget, click here to view the Clear Communication Index User Guide.

The Index is easy to use and takes only 15 minutes to score material once you are comfortable with the process. Using this index promotes CDC’s goal of improving health communication and enhancing the comprehension of public health messages. Click the image or here to learn more about CDC’s Clear Communication Index.


Why Listening is Crucial to Communicating

While it’s important to share information as quickly as possible during an emergency, it’s important to get information affecting your target audience as well. Understanding a community’s specific needs can help you tailor public health recommendations to make them easier to access, understand, and follow. Time is precious during a disaster, but taking the time to listen to people affected by a crisis is crucial for effective communication.

The right message at the right time from the right person can save lives. However, that message may need to come in different formats through different channels to reach everyone affected by a public health emergency. Listening to communities in crisis can tell you:

  • What concerns are most upsetting
  • What questions need to be answered
  • Which messages need more explanation
  • Which public health recommendations are not working

Changing your messages based on community input may increase the number of people who are able to take your suggestions, change their behaviors, and avoid future risks to their health and well-being.

During a disaster, the public often tells you—directly or indirectly—exactly what information they want to hear from you. Below are a few ways you can hear what they’re saying.

  • Media monitoring: Both traditional and social media may indicate what the public is thinking. Media monitoring can reveal rumors and public reactions worth addressing.
  • Helplines: Helplines can expose information patterns and gaps. This awareness can help you improve messaging and outreach efforts.
  • Town Hall Meetings: Meeting with community members in person can be extremely informative. These forums can uncover how messages are being received and interpreted. They can also support open channels of communication.

The best time to start understanding what a community needs is before a crisis ever occurs. Building relationships with community representatives will allow you to assess and meet people’s needs quickly. Listening to early input from communities can help you manage information before rumors become an issue.

For more resources and information on CERC, please see Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition or Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Pandemic Influenza, 2007.

Have you used CERC in your work? To share your CERC stories, e-mail Your stories may appear in future CERC Corners.


See below for some of CDC themes, events, and series that occured during the month of January.

"We Were There" Lecture Series

We Were There Polio Heading

 Conquering Polio in America: The Cutter Incident and Beyond

On Wednesday, January 25, the "We Were There" lecture series presented "Conquering Polio in America: The Cutter Incident and Beyond," at CDC's Roybal Campus. "We Were There" is a quarterly lecture series featuring past and present CDC investigators – the original Disease Detectives - as they share their personal perspectives on historically important, CDC-led epidemiologic and laboratory investigations. Click the image above or here to learn more about the series and to see the lecture.  

National Radon Action Month


Do You Know How Much Radon is in Your Home?

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, you increase your risk of developing lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General’s Office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. Knowing how much radon is in your home can save your life. Click the image above or here to learn more about protecting yourself and your family from radon.

Radon home infographic

What is Radon?

Radon is a gas that forms naturally when radioactive metals – like uranium, thorium, or radium – break down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. Radon is invisible; you can’t see, smell, or taste it. When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.

How Do I Test for Radon?

Testing is inexpensive, easy, and should only take a few minutes of your time. It requires opening a package, placing a small measuring device in a room, and then leaving it there for the desired period (which may be a few days, or as many as 90 days or more). The longer the testing period, the more relevant the results are to your home and lifestyle. Click the image above or here for more information on radon and how to test for it.



See below and visit CDC's Zika website for the most current updates and information about Zika virus.



Zika Deployment Spotlight


Name: Dr. Ibad Khan

Deployment Site: Puerto Rico

“When I landed, I realized there were a lot of gaps in message retention and people understanding what was important.”

CDC has sent staff on 1,123 deployments globally in response to Zika. Dr. Ibad Khan, one of the staff chosen to deploy, spent the final months of 2016 leading the Puerto Rico Joint Information Center.

Although Ibad has dedicated his past few years to working in emergency response, his work in Puerto Rico was one of his most challenging deployments.

Click the image above or here to read more about Ibad's work in Puerto Rico and the importance of communication in responding to Zika.


The Washington Post—One year later, Zika still affects us all


A Year Later...

Former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and Chief Medical Officer of the March of Dimes, Edward McCabe, wrote an article in the Washington Post about the lessons they've learned fighting Zika in 2016. Click the image (left) or here to read the article.



CNN—I live in Miami, I'm pregnant, and I tested positive for Zika virus


Lindsay Malloy Received a False Positive Zika Test

Click the image above or here to learn more about Lindsay Malloy's story. 


Get Zika Info on-the-go

CDc Zika Mobile app

Sign up to receive Zika updates for your travel destination with CDC's new text messaging service. Text PLAN to 855-255-5606 to subscribe. Click the image (left) or here for more Zika travel information.

When traveling to visit friends or family, think about possible health risks during your trip. If Zika is in the area you are visiting, protect yourself and loved ones from mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika. Click here to see what you need to know before, during, and after your trip.



doctor and pregnant woman  

Birth Defects and Zika

Moms-to-be: Prevent Zika to protect your pregnancy.





Pregnant women or families who would like to speak to someone about a possible Zika virus infection or diagnosis during pregnancy and potential risks to the baby can contact MotherToBaby, a service of the nonprofit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). MotherToBaby is not affiliated with CDC.

MotherToBaby experts are available during business hours to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or talk about Zika:



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