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Radon is an invisible radioactive gas found all over the U.S., but Iowa has some of the nation's highest levels of radon. Radon causes no immediate health symptoms, however, long-term exposure can lead to lung cancer. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, indoor radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., and according to the U.S. EPA, it is the first leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. Each year, radon kills more people than drunk driving accidents, falls, in the home, drowning, and house fires. The good news is - you can fix a radon problem.
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test. A simple test kit can reveal the amount of radon in any building. Buildings with high levels can usually be fixed safely and affordably, and new homes can be built with radon-resistant features. Every new home, however, should be tested after occupancy regardless of whether or not it was built to be radon-resistant.
A healthy adult can give blood every 56 days, yet less than 10 percent of eligible donors in the U.S. (38 percent of the population) give blood. And, nine out of 10 people who live to age 70 will use blood sometime in their lifetime.
Donating blood is safe and easy. Each donor is screened by health professionals at the time they donate, and all donated blood undergoes laboratory testing to ensure that it is safe for transfusion. The National Blood Donor Registry, organized by America's Blood Centers, mobilizes blood donors to respond to critical shortages in their communities. The registration process is simple and private. Remember, the information you submit is private and will not be shared. Don't wait until the need is critical - start the process at www.americasblood.org.
You can also contact the LifeServe Blood Center (Formerly the Blood Center of Iowa and Siouxland Community Blood Bank). Visit their website to set up an appointment to donate today!
Hazardous Materials Awareness Week is recognized the third full week in January. Nearly all households use products that contain hazardous materials, and hazardous materials are transported on our roadways, railways and waterways daily. Although the risk of a chemical accident is slight, knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury. Click here for more information about hazardous materials safety.
Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is designed to provide an opportunity for burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in our communities. Burn Awareness Week, celebrated early in the year, is an excellent opportunity to “kick off” a year full of burn awareness education.
For more information, visit the American Burn Association website.
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the month of March 1943 as “Red Cross Month.” The Red Cross set a fundraising goal of $125 million, the largest amount ever requested in one campaign by any American organization. It took less than six weeks to reach the target. By June 1943, donations totaled nearly $146 million. Roosevelt called it "the greatest single crusade of mercy in all of history."
As part of the tradition, the President customarily issues a proclamation each year declaring March as Red Cross Month.
The American Red Cross (ARC) exists to provide compassionate care to those in need. The ARC network of generous donors, volunteers and employees share a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world, through five key service areas:
- Disaster Relief. The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the U.S. every year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family to hurricanes that affect thousands, to earthquakes that impact millions. The Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet. While not a government agency,the Red Cross works in partnership with other agencies and organizations that provide services to disaster victims.
- Supporting America's Military Families. The Red Cross helps military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military service.
- Blood Donation. Donations of blood are what make the American Red Cross the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S. Each year, the Red Cross, provides more than 40 percent of America’s blood supply.
- Health and Safety Services. The Red Cross is the nation’s leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, First Aid and Lifeguard training. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in ARC training programs, including first responders, educators, babysitters, and people who want to be prepared to help others in an emergency.
- International Services. The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. The ARC helps respond to disasters, build safer communities, and educate future humanitarians. Each year, more than 100 million people on average are helped across the globe.
The U.S. Congress established National Poison Prevention Week in September 1961. National Poison Prevention Week is recognized the third week in March each year, designed to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.
According to the Poison Prevention Week Council, each year more than 2 million poisonings are reported in the United States. About 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. And, poisonings are one of the leading causes of death among adults.
Call 1-800-222-1222 to get help from your poison control center, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Service is available throughout the entire U.S. and its territories.
Learn more about how to prevent a poisoning from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Keep your pets safe from poison! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has established a 24-hour hotline that you can call if you believe your pet has ingested a potentially poisonous substance. Like our kids, our pets are vulnerable to everyday products (including foods) in our homes. Call 1-888-426-4435 to get help from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. (A consultation fee may be added to your credit card.)
Iowans are ever mindful that severe weather may strike at any time. Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, along with the National Weather Service (Des Moines office) designate the last full week of March as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa. The goal is to provide Iowans a better understanding about the state’s spring weather hazards. Specific topics addressed include flash floods, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, weather warnings and family preparedness.
Each year, both the U.S. Congress and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recognize April as National 9-1-1 Education Month. In Iowa, the month-long campaign is aimed at helping Iowans of all ages recognize the importance of 9-1-1 and the role they play in ensuring effective and efficient emergency response in times of crisis.
As consumers utilize new communications technologies and devices, 9-1-1 education takes on an increased importance. Another reason for 9-1-1 education is that as people get older, they tend to forget how and when to use 9-1-1.
National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.
Volunteers play a crucial role in disaster response, supplementing the efforts of emergency responders who provide immediate relief and care to individuals following a disaster. The Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council (IDHRC) encourages organization and identification of volunteers before a disaster occurs. Once identified, these volunteers are able to provide needed assistance in response and recovery efforts.
Iowa is currently ranked second in the nation for its volunteer rate (percentage of Iowans who volunteer), however, is near the middle of the pack for the number of hours volunteered - on average, 34.2 hours per year. In other words, Iowans are more likely to volunteer but on average volunteer fewer hours than the national average.
Through the "What's Your 50?" campaign, Volunteer Iowa hopes Iowans will increase their service activities to 50 hours per year. Contributing an extra 16 hours annually per resident would provide an additional $1 billion worth of services and improve the well-being of the Iowans who volunteer. Research has shown that an annual contribution of 50 hours tends to be the tipping point for maximizing impact; both to the individual who volunteers as well as the benefactor of their service.
- Learn more about Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council
- Learn more about "What's Your 50?" campaign
- Learn about Points of Light recognition program for volunteers
Celebrated the first week of May since 1985, Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is time set aside to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees and ensure that our government is the best in the world.
Throughout the country, mayors, governors, communities and public service organizations participate in PSRW by issuing proclamations; hosting award ceremonies and special tribute events; and delivering messages about the value of public service.
Public servants deserve our thanks throughout the year and we invite you to continue honoring them for the work they do each and every day. Ideas range from sending messages of thanks to holding appreciation events to highlighting employee accomplishments on your website or newsletter. For additional suggestions, click here to download the How to Celebrate PSRW Guide.
National Nurses Week coincides with Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12. Many consider Nightingale the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale's habit of making ward rounds at night earned her the nickname, "The Lady with the Lamp."
The history of Nurses Week began in 1953 when Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare sent the proposal to President Eisenhower. In 1974, President Nixon proclaimed a “National Nurse Week.”
The American Nurses Association (ANA) believes that nurses are special and deserve to be celebrated! National Nurses Week is a time to appreciate the value nurses bring to their patients, employers, and the world of health care.
To learn more about National Nurse's Week, visit the ANA website.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, D.C. to participate in a number of planned events which honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The Memorial Service began in 1982 as a gathering in Senate Park of approximately 120 survivors and supporters of law enforcement. Decades later, the event, more commonly known as National Police Week, has grown to a series of events which attracts thousands of survivors and law enforcement officers to our Nation's Capital each year.
For more information, visit the National Police Week website.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) was instrumental in establishing EMS Week when President Gerald Ford declared the first week in November 1974. The observance moved to September and then in 1992 EMS week was moved to the third week in May.
National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week brings together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line." This information can be used throughout the year for public education and safety programs.
For additional information, contact email@example.com.
Since 1960, the American Public Works Association (APWA) has sponsored National Public Works Week. Across North America, the APWA's more than 28,000 members in the U.S. and Canada use this week to energize and educate the public on the importance of the contribution of public works to their daily lives: planning, building, managing and operating the heart of our local communities and building the quality of life.
APWA has selected “Because of Public Works...” as its theme for 2013’s National Public Works Week, which will be celebrated May 19-25. The theme is about the quality of life brought to communities around the world. We are able to have clean water, safe streets and neighborhoods, efficient traffic and safe clean communities "Because of Public Works..."
For additional information, visit the APWA website.
Each June, the National Safety Council encourages organizations to get involved and participate in National Safety Month. National Safety Month is an annual observance to educate and influence behaviors around leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths.
This year's overall theme for the month is: "Safety: It takes all of us"
Each week in June carries a theme that brings attention to critical safety issues. The weekly themes in 2014 are:
- Week 1 - Prevent prescription drug abuse
- Week 2 - Stop slips, trips and falls
- Week 3 - Be aware of your surroundings
- Week 4 - Put an end to distracted driving
- BONUS WEEK - Summer safety
For additional information, visit the National Safety Council's website.
On Dec. 13, 2007, Congress unanimously passed a resolution to create National Cardiopulmonary (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Awareness Week. This observance occurs the first week of June each year to increase public knowledge of the use of CPR and AEDs.
Working with health advocates across the nation, the American Heart Association (AHA) has made significant strides strengthening the Chain of Survival:
- Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland and Oregon all have successfully enacted legislation that eased liability concerns for businesses and organizations that place AEDs in their facilities.
- Iowa and Wisconsin now require that high school students be offered hands-on CPR training.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 295,000 occurrences of out-of-hospital SCA per year, with only an 8 percent survival rate. It can be successfully treated in many victims by a time electrical shock using an AED, but time is critical. Using AEDs helps save lives because they can help restore normal heart rhythm before emergency personnel arrive. Communities with comprehensive AED programs have achieved survival rates of 40 percent or higher.
It may not always be possible to have access to an AED. It is the American Heart Association's belief that everyone should know how to perform CPR in an emergency. Immediate, effective CPR could more than double a victim's chance of survival. Those administering CPR should push on the chest at a rate of at least 100 beats per minute. The AHA says, push to the beat of "Stayin' Alive," and you could save a life.
For more information and to learn how to perform Hands-OnlyTM CPR, visit the American Heart Association's CPR & AED Awareness Week website.
Heat is one of the most deadly weather phenomena. According to the National Weather Service, in a normal year, more people die on average due to excessive heat than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
In Iowa, summer means two things: heat and humidity. Both combine to create conditions which tax the human body beyond its natural cooling abilities. Heat is a silent killer, and knowing the dangers of summer heat and how to prepare for it can save lives.
Lightning is a serious danger. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), an average of 54 people are reported killed by lightning each year in the U.S., and hundreds are permanently injured by lightning.
Summer is the peak season for this deadly phenomena. The NWS has designated the week of June 23-29 as Lightning Safety Awareness Week. This is the perfect time to review what you should do in the event there is a severe thunderstorm and/or lightning in your immediate area. Visit our severe thunderstorm page for additional information, or visit the NWS website.
"When thunder roars, go indoors."
Using fireworks on our nation's birthday is American as apple pie, backyard barbecues and parades. It is equally safe if a few common-sense rules are followed.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety’s (NCFS) mission is to educate the public on the safe and responsible use of consumer fireworks in the effort to eliminate injuries.
The NCFS has some tips for those of us who enjoy an explosive display:
- Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them. (The only fireworks legal in Iowa are the ones you can purchase in Iowa stores, such as sparklers, poppers and “snakes.” Roman candles and firecrackers are illegal.) Remember, there are plenty of official fireworks displays for you to enjoy for free, and at a safe distance.
- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Always have water handy.
- Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter or combine them.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
- Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
- Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives–they can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
For additional information on fireworks safety, visit the NCFS website.
Each September, Americans are encouraged to make sure they are prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. National Preparedness Month was created in response to the attacks of 9/11. Iowans are urged to take the necessary steps to be prepared for all emergencies and disasters - both natural and man-made.
Being prepared means:
- Families and individuals have an emergency supply kit so they can be self-reliant for at least three days in an emergency, and they have a plan for how they will respond and reconnect with other family members after an emergency;
- Employers and business groups need to plan for how they will survive a disaster, back up critical information, develop a plan for assisting employees on site, establish a call tree to account for employees, and identify back-up sources of power and supplies;
- Schools need to develop, implement, and communicate a crisis plan. See the U.S. Department of Education's Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center; and
- EVERYONE needs to stay informed, understand the specific risks in your community and how to prepare for them, and know how to get information and alerts from local, state, tribal and territorial emergency management agencies.
Disasters and emergencies of all kinds can strike anywhere at any time. Investing in the preparedness of ourselves, our families, our businesses and our schools can reduce fatalities and economic devastation in our communities, our state and our nation.
In 1984, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) designated October Crime Prevention Month. Every year since then, government agencies, civic groups, schools, businesses, and youth organizations have reached out to educate the public, showcase their accomplishments, and explore new partnerships during this special month.
Each year, more than 40 million Americans are victimized at home, at school, or on the street. For all major types of crimes, people aged 12 to 19 are the most frequent victims.
To learn more about crime prevention, visit the NCPC website.
Each October, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center serves as co-host with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division, the National Association of Chief Information Officers and the National Cyber Security Alliance in promoting National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NSCAM).
Each and every one of us needs to do our part to make sure that our online lives are kept safe and secure. We lead Web-based, digital lives. From personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, e-book readers, to working, shopping, and social networking, virtually every aspect of our lives touches the digital world. Our reliance increases as digital technology advances and high speed Internet access becomes more widespread. Yet, if we are to maximize the convenience, speed, and future potential of a digital society, we must protect the resource that makes it possible.
STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
- Stop. Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
- Think. Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your online actions could impact your safety or your family's.
- Connect. Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you've taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.
For additional information, visit the following websites:
- StaySafeOnline.org (National Cyber Security Alliance)
- Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871.
According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow - belonging to Mrs. Catherine O'Leary - kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. Chances are you've heard some version of this story yourself; people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O'Leary, for more than 130 years. But recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls. According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.
How can you prevent fires? The National Fire Protection Association offers some basic tips:
- Watch your cooking. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave - even for a short time - turn off the stove.
- Give space heaters space. Keep fixed and portable space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn. Turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Smoke outside. Ask smokers to smoke outside. Have sturdy, deep ashtrays for smokers.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach. Keep matches and lighters up high, out of reach of young children, preferably in a cabinet with a child lock.
- Inspect electrical cords. Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs, or have loose connections.
- Be careful when using candles. Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Have a home fire escape plan. Make a home fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.
- Install smoke alarms. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Interconnect smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Test smoke alarms. Test smoke alarms at least once a month and replace batteries once a year or when the alarm “chirps” to tell you the battery is low. Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
- Install sprinklers. If you are building or remodeling your home, install residential fire sprinklers. Sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive.
For more information, visit the NFPA's website.
We all need to be better prepared to react should a major earthquake strike, no matter where we live. The Central United States is a seismic region, it’s not impossible that one should happen here.
Beginning in October 2013, the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut will move permanently to the third Thursday of October, in order to be aligned with the larger national ShakeOut effort that takes place annually.
The fourth annual Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is scheduled for Oct. 16. The ShakeOut is not something you need to leave work to participate in—in fact, participating at work is encouraged! Businesses, organizations, schools, and government agencies can register and have their employees practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On.
The National School Safety Center (NSSC) established America's Safe Schools Week in 1984. It is celebrated annually the third full week in October. This observance is also actively supported by state governors, state school superintendents, various local, state and national public officials, and professional organizations.
NSSC's goal in this campaign is to motivate key education and law enforcement policymakers, as well as students, parents and community residents, to vigorously advocate school safety. School safety includes keeping campuses free of crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance. School that are safe and free of violence, weapons and drugs are necessary to ensure the well-being of all children and the quality of their education.
America's Safe Schools Week provides a unique opportunity for you and your organization to focus on educational issues that directly affect your community.
For more information:
Each year, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the National Weather Service sponsor Winter Weather Awareness Day.
Winter storms can bring heavy snow, ice, strong winds and freezing rain. Winter Weather Awareness Day is an opportunity to remind Iowans that there are steps they can take to be prepared for winter. Because it's a matter of when, not if, winter weather will occur.
Advance preparation is key to preventing injuries and death during the winter months. For more information on preparing for winter weather, visit our Winter Weather page.
The United Nations has promoted the International Day of Persons with Disability since 1992. The observance is meant to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities.
More than one billion people worldwide (15 percent of the world's population) live with some form of disability.
The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities in provides an opportunity to address this exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society.