Posted by: Dr. Kevin Yeskey, deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response, Department of Health and Human Services
The kick off of the hurricane season in June serves as a reminder that any type of disaster can affect the health of individuals and entire communities. I wanted to share a new resource for state and local emergency managers and public health officials who send cell phone text alerts to the public after a disaster - a toolkit of texts with expert-approved recommended actions that people can take to protect their health.
The text messages from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are 115 characters or fewer (including spaces), and are designed so that emergency managers can modify them easily if necessary to fit the community’s needs.
The text messages are the latest addition to an HHS communications package that includes 30-second public service announcements for radio and TV on how people can stay safe after disasters such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. The packages, including the text messages, are available for voluntary use by emergency managers at http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/psa.
Subject matter experts from across HHS developed the messages, on such subjects as carbon monoxide poisoning, food and drug safety, and safety regarding damaged buildings. To help ensure the texts would be valuable, state- and local-level emergency officials worked on teams with HHS officials to select messages and craft the wording.
Managers who draw texts from the toolkit can free their communicators to respond to other disaster-related messaging while knowing that the texts’ recommended actions are based on careful consideration and state-of-the-knowledge science.
Please feel free to spread word of this project to other departments that would benefit from having access to these messages. We welcome questions and feedback through firstname.lastname@example.org, or by leaving a comment below.