The Boy Scout motto is "be prepared," but can your home health agency abide by this standard? The post-9/11 days of 2001 and the natural disasters that have threatened people and plagued our home and countries abroad illustrate the heightened level of awareness and preparedness home healthcare agencies must achieve to satisfactorily meet emergency preparedness standards. Community-based nurses often are on the front line of response to a man-made, biological, or naturally occurring event. You may have been assigned to work on a plan for your agency's response or have had questions asked about preparedness by your clients and family members. Here are six Web sites to get you started on the answers to those questions and concerns.


Article Content

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site for Emergency Preparedness and Response provides access to the latest information on agents, diseases, other threats, and tools for preparing for such events. This is the place to go if you are developing a response plan for your agency. Volumes of material are readily available to clinicians and the general public. There are numerous links to sites within the CDC and other agency/organization sites. The site is easy to navigate and has options in Spanish. Click on Preparation and Planning to get detailed information about national, state, and local preparedness topics. Templates/guidelines for such plans for every type of facility/organization are there. Click on Training and find up-to-date training programs via Web casts, videos, modules, and online courses. For those developing emergency preparedness plans that are specific to a particular threat or disaster, click on Agents, Diseases, and Other Threats. Everything from earthquakes, to wild fires, to tsunamis is covered in this section. These are great ways to update your knowledge base while developing response plans for your agency.


American Red Cross

For those seeking information on personal/home preparedness, this is the right site. The American Red Cross has a long history of responding to disasters at home and around the world. Click on Services and then Be Prepared for information on family disaster planning, including how to create a disaster plan and building a supply kit. This is useful information when assisting families to prepare for the unexpected. Information is also available on business preparedness, which includes guidance for a personal workplace disaster supply kit. Click on Special Needs and Concerns, and Disaster Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities will appear with detailed emergency preparedness information for homebound persons and the elderly, children, and even animals. There is also a link to information that is available in Spanish. Red Cross Bay Area and Other Community Organizations

This site is sponsored by the American Red Cross Bay Area and other community-based organizations to provide disaster preparedness materials for seniors, children, people with disabilities, and animal and pet owners. Click on Seniors for A Guide for People With Disabilities as well as information for seniors written by seniors. Information for parents and educators on helping children deal with terrorism and trauma is available, including lists of supplies for schools. Children will particularly enjoy the Be Ready Workbook and the Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book. Because this Web site features information for the West Coast but has applicability to many people, literature is available in Spanish, French, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, Hmong, Russian, Lao, Korean, Japanese, Khmer, and Arabic.


Federal Emergency Management Agency

This is the Web site of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose responsibility includes preparing for, preventing, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating the effects of disasters. This site's virtual library and electronic reading room hold all the manuals, directives, policy statements, and other published material. Click on Education and Training for training opportunities for emergency personnel and curriculum for schools and community organizations. Courses in the Professional Development Series are available on-line for independent study. The Community Emergency Response Teams introductory course could be your first step in connecting to your local community's disaster response. Click on Preparedness, and you will find an entire listing of major programs and initiatives dedicated to assisting the public with disasters. If you work with children, visit the link to for kid-friendly/kid-specific materials.


Medical Reserve Corps

The Medical Reserve Corps is a component of the Citizen Corps developed as a result of September 11. It is headquartered in the US Surgeon General's office and provides an organized way for medical and public health volunteers to offer their skills and expertise during local crises and throughout the year. Click on MRC Units to find the unit closest to you. Then sign up to be a volunteer. You will be provided training specific to your job in an emergency (i.e., giving flu shots) and opportunities to serve your community by participating in health activities as you are available during nonemergencies. Department of Homeland Security

This is the official Web site of the US Department of Homeland Security aimed at providing practical preparation guidelines in the event of a local or national emergency. The entire premise of the Web site is to be prepared. Click on Be Informed to secure emergency preparedness information on biological, chemical, and radiation events, nuclear blasts, explosions, and natural disasters. The Get a Kit tab is useful for helping individuals plan for the basic necessities during a catastrophic event. This includes the necessities of food and water, improvising to get clean air, making a first-aid kit, collecting supplies for a portable kit, and lists of certain items for persons with special needs, such as infants, seniors, or those with disabilities. Click on the icon Supply Checklists for an entire inventory of supplies and equipment essential for an emergency situation, such as specifics on food, water, clothing, bedding, and important family documents. The Make a Plan tab identifies planning strategies, such as creating a family plan and deciding where to go and what to do if you are in a vehicle, at work, at school, or in a high-rise building.


Being prepared is just a click away. With the United States and world on alert after so many natural disasters, now is the time to see if your clinical skills and agency practices can stand up to the test. Get informed now and lessen the consequences of poor planning in your community and for your home health patients.