Claire R. Oakley, PhD, Director of Health Promotion at RiverStone Health

Claire R. Oakley

Of all the things people usually do on the Fourth of July — fireworks, parades, barbecues — becoming more prepared to respond to a natural disaster could be one of the most patriotic things to consider on the holiday.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a “go to” website on public health issues, offers some neighborly advice on being more prepared: be healthy, meet your neighbors, check your first aid kit, get trained in first aid or CPR, and volunteer.

While the advice fits disaster preparedness, it also relates to RiverStone Health’s efforts as Yellowstone County’s public health agency.

1. Be Healthy. Public health often focuses on improving your health, which helps keep you in better shape to help others. Eating a colorful plate of food helps ensure getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients. Restaurant inspections help ensure the safety of the foods you eat. You can help protect your friends and family from foodborne illnesses by maintaining foods at the proper temperature during the holiday and through the summer. Along with keeping food safe, consider drinking fewer alcoholic beverages on the holiday — practicing moderation versus binge drinking.

2. Meet your Neighbors. Social-connectedness helps maintain our health and our ability to cope with life’s curve balls. Providing public spaces for outdoor recreation encourages social participation and inclusion — one of four overarching strategies to increase the proportion of adults living at a healthy weight that are outlined in the Yellowstone County Community Health Improvement Plan.

3. Check your First Aid Kit. Because accidents happen, knowing that you are ready to assist in an emergency helps protect your family and others. Have you had a conversation with your family about plans for reacting to a local emergency, like a tornado or hailstorm that knocks out power or severely damages your home or apartment? The Ready Yellowstone website offers tips on preparing for common emergencies at readyyellowstone.org. As the county’s public health agency, we regularly practice our role in planning for and responding to public health emergencies.

4. Get Trained. Learning basic first aid and CPR can help you be prepared to save a life. Be Aware, be Prepared, be Involved are watchwords of preparedness.

5. Volunteer. This final CDC tip is especially good to remember year-round. The health of our community depends on our own individual attention to personal health and safety, but also on the goodwill of our friends and neighbors to contribute to the health and strength of our community. To volunteer, contact a local organization, or use https://www.unitedwayyellowstone.org/volunteer to search for volunteer opportunities.

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Claire R. Oakley, PhD, Director of Health Promotion at RiverStone Health, can be reached at 651.6462 or Claire.oak@riverstonehealth.org.