National Public Health Week: Integrating Preparedness into our Everyday Lives

Date: April 3, 2006
Location: Washington, DC

National Public Health Week: Integrating Preparedness into our Everyday Lives


In order to foster today's youth to fully explore their potential, it is a worthy legacy to build healthy and safe communities for children to grow up in. In recognition of the National Public Health Week, many events will take place across the nation to focus this year on "Designing Health Communities: Raising Healthy Kids." The role that preparedness plays in this initiative should be highlighted and incorporated alongside with other public health issues that are discussed this week.

Recent natural disasters underscore the need to have preparedness measures in place at the local level to respond to such crises. I have played an active role in coordinating local, state, and federal responses following Hurricane Katrina and Rita. However, these efforts are no substitute for individual preparedness.

Many resources are available to guide families as they explore the best way to plan for emergencies. For example, the US Department of Homeland Security website,, can guide you as you develop your own plan. Parents should also discuss with their children how to communicate and reunite if a disaster occurs while they are in school. Basic supplies should be kept on hand such as nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit, list of medications, and emergency contact information as well.

Another emerging global health threat, avian influenza, is an additional reminder that preserving healthy communities can only be achieved with every citizen's active participation. Avian flu is widespread in birds, but not in humans. This year alone, animal and human outbreaks have been reported in over 30 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa since January. To date, 105 confirmed human deaths have been attributed to the H5N1 avian flu virus. Containing this disease in birds should be a number one priority as well as continuing efforts to prepare our country.

Schools, businesses, and families can contribute to ensure that a pandemic does not evolve and their actions minimize the spread of disease. A good resource is In addition, preparedness on the state level is happening as can be demonstrated with the pandemic planning summit that took place on March 27.

Healthy and safe communities are built with the involvement of every concerned citizen. It is never too late to integrate preparedness into our everyday lives.