Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 6

Texas Emergency Management Briefs, Tips and Links

Harris County Releases Emergency Preparedness App

(Harris County, TX) Today, the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management released a free mobile app, ReadyHarris, just in time for hurricane season. The app helps Harris County residents build a personal preparedness plan and get real-time updates during emergencies.

“Every minute counts when severe weather, or any emergency, threatens our community,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “This app empowers residents to make a personal plan and receive life-saving information at their fingertips.”

The ReadyHarris app delivers real time weather alerts, hosts a step-by-step guide to building a personalized family disaster plan, offers survival tip sheets, maps evacuation routes and locates local emergency services. The app is available in both English and Spanish.

The release comes at a time when recent surveys find that people depend on their smartphones more than ever for breaking news, important government information and what is happening in their community.

“People depend on information to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters,” added Emmett. “We want to make sure our community has the best available emergency information at all times, as easily as possible.”

A “Need to Know” section offers quick tips on:

  • Flooding
  • Tornadoes
  • Wildfires
  • Winter Storms
  • Thunderstorms
  • Functional Needs
  • Pet Preparedness
  • Hurricanes

The free app is available for download on iTunes and Google Play as ReadyHarris. For more information on how to prepare for severe weather and other disasters download the app or visit www.readyharris.org.

Using Social Media for Effective Engagement

Local governments are now well aware that social networking is an important communications and information gathering method for everyday citizens, particularly with the proliferation of smartphones. From students to parents to professionals to elected officials, people from every walk of life are posting their statuses, snapchatting photos, checking their newsfeeds, or sharing news to their social networks via social media.

Here are some guidelines for developing social media sites that promote transparency, enhance engagement and foster collaboration:

  1. Present content in a way that is sure to resonate with the audience and avoid repetition
  2. Foster a place where opinions and perspectives can be shared freely by engaging and responding to comments positively
  3. Determine the tone and perspective of your organization’s online persona and stick to it
  4. Consider stakeholders and publish content to include information relevant to local businesses, schools and other community organizations
  5. Update your social media profiles on a daily basis

Here’s other ways they do it so successfully:

Understand your audience

Evaluate how you have previously attempted to communicate with your community and what was learned from the result, and which social media channels are most popular with them.

Define goals and outcomes

Know what you want to accomplish with social media and why these things are important to accomplish. As you define your goals and outcomes, consider objectives that fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Engagement Communicating with the public in a meaningful way
  • Open innovation Social media provides a great platform for opening up innovation beyond the walls of the organization
  • Participation Make it easier for the public to take part and share their thoughts and ideas
  • Collaboration Partner with others, sharing information to maximize involvement
  • Crowdsourcing Get the opinions and ideas of those whom your decisions will impact
  • Knowledge Sharing Maximize limited resources across the organization by sharing experiences and information gained with multiple departments

Information from the International City/County Management Association
National Association of Counties Toolkit

Healthy and Safe Swimming

Each year the week before Memorial Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsors National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2016 took place May 23-29, 2016, marking the 12th anniversary of this observance.

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week focuses on simple steps swimmers and pool operators can take to help ensure a healthy and safe swimming experience for everyone. It focuses on the role of swimmers, aquatics and beach staff, residential pool owners and public health officials in preventing drowning, pool chemical injuries and outbreaks of illnesses. It highlights swimmer hygiene and the need for swimmers to take an active role in helping to protect themselves and prevent the spread of germs. These messages are reinforced by  health promotion materials  to educate the public on how to prevent recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

What are RWIs?

RWIs are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water or chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems. Children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs. More information about RWIs can be found on the  Basics of RWIs page.

Information for the public
CDC Features Healthy and Safe Swimming Week
CDC Features Q&A with Missy Franklin: Olympic Gold Medalist and Healthy Swimming Champion
Healthy Swimming Information for the Public


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