Don’t Be Caught Unprepared: What Goes in an Emergency Kit

January 02, 2019

Californians are no stranger to emergencies. From earthquakes to wildfires, flash floods to landslides, there’s plenty of reasons to be thinking ahead. Building an emergency kit is a great way to be prepared if disaster strikes. Follow the suggestions below to keep you and your family ready for anything. 
 

First Aid Kit
first aid kit

The first item in any good emergency kit is a First Aid Kit, which can help treat cuts, scrapes, splinters, or other minor abrasions. Many kits come with a variety of bandages, sterilized gauze, eye drops, tweezers, gloves, antiseptic wipes, and cleaning ointments like Neosporin. You can buy one pre-made at your local drug store or online, or you can purchase the individual items yourself. 
 

Water
water

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends families keep at least one gallon of water per person per day, for at least three days. That means a family of four should have twelve gallons stored away. In addition to staying hydrated, water can be used for sanitation needs. 
 

Canned Foods & Can Opener
canned foods

It’s also important to maintain a three-day supply of non-perishable foods. Canned meats, vegetables, and fruits are recommended, as well as foods like granola bars or peanut butter. Make sure you have an old-fashioned, hand-held can opener as well, since your power may go out. Remember to check your emergency kit once a year and replace any expired goods. 
 

Flashlight & Batteries
flashlight

In the event of a power outage, a flashlight will help you and your family safely navigate the area. You can also use it to alert rescuers to your location. Consider packing one flashlight per adult and be sure to add batteries as well. 
 

Dust Mask
dust mask

FEMA suggests at least one dust mask for every member of your family. These masks will help filter contaminated air in the event of disasters such as wildfires or earthquakes. Keeping smoke, ash, or other hazards particles out of your lungs is extremely important for your long-term health. 
 

Medications
meds

If you or a loved one suffers from a medical condition requiring prescription medication, injections, or epi-pens, it’s essential to set aside a small amount in your emergency kit. The American Red Cross recommends at least seven days’ worth of supplies. Over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin or Tylenol will also come in handy.
 

Multi-Purpose Tool
multi purpose tool

A multi-purpose tool is another worthwhile investment for your emergency kit. Pliers, for example, can be used to turn off utilities before you leave your home. Many of these tools also contain essentials like can openers and screwdrivers. Best of all, these tools take up less space than if you packed all the items separately. 
 

Extra Chargers
chargers

An extra charger will definitely be useful during any emergency. Like flashlights, add one charger for every adult with a cell phone. Be sure to update chargers as you change devices. 
 

Blankets
blankets

One to two warm, durable blankets are recommended by the Red Cross to use for protection against outdoor exposure. You can also use sturdy blankets and some duct tape to build a makeshift shelter. 
 

Whistle
whistle

Whistles are an easy, effective way to alert rescuers to your location. Because they’re so small, adding multiple whistles to your emergency kit is a no-brainer. 
 

Tips for Kit Maintenance


Once you’ve finished assembling your emergency kit, remember to:

  • Keep your kit in a cool, dry place. This will help canned goods stay fresh.  
  •  Check expiration dates on food and medicine every six months.
  • Review your supplies every year. Has your family grown? Have your needs changed? Adjusting your supplies on a regular basis will help you stay ready for anything. 


Your Emergency Checklist, Compliments of AltaMed

When disaster strikes, we want you to be ready for it. Print out the following checklist and use it to prepare an emergency kit. We hope it doesn't happen, but in the event of an emergency, you can’t be too prepared. 


AltaMed Emergency Kit Checklist

  • Batteries
  • Blankets
  • Canned Foods             
  • Can Opener                 
  • Duct Tape
  • Dust Masks
  • Extra Chargers
  • First Aid Kit       
  • Flashlight    
  • Water                               
  • Medications
  • Multi-Purpose Tool

 

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Mental Health Matters

December 03, 2018

Mental Health is Part of Your Health
group of friends

The first step is recognizing that your mental health is your health. Your mental health can also affect your physical health in some serious and surprising ways. When you’re feeling down, you may be less likely to take care of yourself: you may skip dosages of a medication or not get enough sleep. You may also engage in riskier behavior, such as drinking or eating to excess, taking drugs, or acting out aggressively.

It goes both ways: people with chronic conditions may be more likely to suffer from poor mental health. And if you have a physical condition AND you suffer from depression, you may have worse health outcomes.
 

Understand the Difference Between Sadness and Depression
depressed man

You’re probably no stranger to sadness: it’s an emotion that makes you feel bad or down, usually following an unfortunate or unpleasant event, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or ending a relationship. Sadness is a common, and even appropriate reaction to these circumstances.

But in some cases, the sadness becomes something more, and can manifest in intense and even physical symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness

If you have any of these feelings that last almost all day, for at least two weeks, and it’s gotten to the point that it interferes with your daily activities, you may actually suffer from depression.

Depression is a serious condition. It may have its roots in an event, such as a major life change (getting fired, moving away from family and friends…even the stress from a happy event like getting married may trigger it). It can be a physical condition, or it may run in your family. Even getting less daylight can cause depression. 

There’s a common myth that you can just snap out of it; perhaps if you just get some fresh air, talk to a friend, or treat yourself to a nice meal, you’d be able to cheer yourself up. But that’s not how depression works. It’s not a matter of will power, commitment, or positive thinking. Unless you get help, depression can last for months or even years.
 

Seek Out Professional Help
woman at doctor

If you think you’re suffering from depression or mental illness, talk to a doctor. Under the Affordable Care Act, all health care plans are required to provide coverage for mental health care. 

Your primary care doctor is a good place to start, since they already know you and your health care history. It may be easier for you, since you’re already familiar with them. 


Getting Tested and Treated
man and doctor

Once you’ve found a doctor, they can help you determine if you do have depression or another mental health disorder, its underlying causes, and the best treatment to help you feel better.

You may be given a physical exam and lab tests to help rule out other conditions. For example, if your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormone, you may experience depression-like symptoms, such as a low mood, fatigue, and weight gain or loss.

At this point, your doctor may recommend medication or refer you to another doctor for additional testing and treatment. 

If your doctor recommends medication, you may need to try different medications before you find the one that works for you. Having bloodwork and a history of your symptoms will help your doctor tailor your treatment, but not every patient responds to every drug. If that’s the case, communicate your feelings to your doctor, be patient, and follow their advice about your prescription.


You Don’t Have to Suffer – and You Don’t Have to Do It Alone.
people hugging

AltaMed is here for you, and we’re committed to your mental and physical well-being. To learn more about AltaMed’s behavioral health services, call 855-425-1777.

If you have suicidal thoughts and feel like you could be a harm to yourself or others, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255


 

Give the Gift of Health – To Yourself!

December 03, 2018

It’s that time of year again! Time for decorating cookies, counting our blessings, and starting to plan for the year ahead. This year get an early start on those New Year’s resolutions by giving yourself the gift of health. These simple tips will help you and your entire family feel great all throughout the year.
 

A Balanced Diet
grapefruit

Don’t worry, you won’t have to avoid all those holiday treats. The key to a healthy, nutritious diet is balance, both in variety and quantity. Make sure to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and proteins. A diverse diet means your body gains important nutrients, all while you get to enjoy trying new foods. For example, eating vegetables every day is great, but switching between leafy greens, colorful peppers and carrots, and legumes like beans and peas is even better. But what about dessert? As long as foods with higher sugar and fat counts are enjoyed in moderation, they can remain on the shopping list. 
 

A Daily Dose of Exercise
woman on bike

It might be a bit cooler outside, but there’s still plenty of ways to get the doctor-recommended amount of exercise every week. Physical activity provides so many health benefits, including lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Even just taking a brisk, 20-minute walk every day will get your heart rate up while giving you fun out in the fresh air. Also, joining a recreational sports league, biking, exercising along with a video, or going to the gym provides great sources of exercise. Try this: after the big holiday meal, take a stroll outside to help yourself digest, lower your blood pressure, and make room for leftovers.
 

A More Relaxed Mind
man meditating

Just as important as a healthy body, giving your mind a chance to rest will have a profound impact on your overall well-being. Stress is bad not only for your mood, but also your immune system. If working, cooking and cleaning, or holiday shopping starts to feel overwhelming, try some of these strategies to cope: 

  • Take a break! Stepping away from the source of stress for even 20 minutes has been shown to lower anxiety. 
  • Start sweating! A short walk, run, bike-ride or swim session benefits your body and your mind.
  • Smile! Research has shown that changing our facial expressions can actually improve overall mood and outlook. 
  • Breathe. If you start to feel tense, take a moment to breathe deeply and collect yourself. 


A Better (and Longer) Night’s Sleep
woman in bed

It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep does wonders for your health. In fact, the CDC recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 60 get at least seven hours of sleep per night, while children and teens should aim for eight or more. Getting enough shut-eye may sound wonderful, but it’s not always so easy. An estimated one third of adults in the United States report not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. A lack of sleep has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions. Luckily, AltaMed has a couple of tips for gifting yourself a better night’s sleep:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same times every day. 
  • Put your phone or computer away at least a half hour before you plan to sleep.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or eating a large meal late at night. 
  • Ensure your bedroom is dark and at a comfortable temperature. 
  •  If possible, exercise during the day.