Hurricane Sandy: We Don't Have the Luxury to Wait for a Storm to Be Prepared

Oct 29, 2012, 10:55 AM

While much of the East Coast already has strong enough winds and rain to make going outdoors foolhardy for you and for the first responders who would have to come after you, there are online and online and at home preparations, such as grouping your freezer foods as close together as possible, which may make them stay cold and safe to eat longer, if the power goes out. See more food safety tips for during and after a storm here.

Asked about the impending severe storm headed for the East Coast today, Adewale Troutman, MD, MPH, who will be elected president of the American Public Health Association later this week, said that while news and information on the storm sprang up just days ago, public health, as always, is ready. “We in public health don’t have the luxury of waiting for a storm to hit to become prepared; we stand ready every single day,” said Dr. Troutman. 

NewPublicHealth looked at several new social media tools from public health departments and agencies that can offer vital help before, during and after the storm:

The Red Cross has also introduced free Hurricane and First Aid apps for mobile devices. The Hurricane App keeps people up to date with weather alerts, locations of Red Cross shelters, and features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm. The "I'm Safe" button lets someone use social media sites to tell family and friends they are okay, and can be used as a Spanish language app by setting a smart phone to Spanish before downloading.  The First Aid app includes expert advice for everyday emergencies. The apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

Finally, Google has launched some interactive maps to help people navigate the storm, which includes tracking and public alerts such as evacuation notices and locations of shelters. Once power outages occur, these may be more useful for people beyond the storm’s track, but could be used to share information such as shelter locations by phone or text, so here’s a reminder to those in the storm’s path to charge up cell phones ahead of power failures. Check your battery operated radio. Some newer models include a cell phone charger.

>>Bonus Link: Read a post on NewPublicHealth about the increasing use of social media by Americans during emergencies. 

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.