The Health Emergency Response Office coordinates the University of Minnesota's core team for handling health incidents and emergencies.
What is a health emergency? What is a health incident?
A health emergency is the rare situation that creates the potential for widespread illness, possibly death, among a group of people. Health emergencies are often long-term events lasting for weeks or even months. Examples of a health emergency include a large outbreak of bacterial meningitis or an influenza pandemic. A health incident is on a smaller scale, but still requires rapid and coordinated response from multiple departments on campus. Examples of health incidents are norovirus outbreaks, cases of mumps, or cases of measles.
What can I do to prepare for a pandemic or other health emergency?
- Keep yourself in good health. This includes getting a seasonal flu shot, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and not smoking.
- Practice infection control measures now. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently. Cover your cough and sneeze into a tissue; dispose of the tissue and wash your hands. Avoid close contact with others when you are ill.
- Develop a communications plan with your family. Create a list of important contacts and discuss alternative ways to communicate if necessary. This might include prearranged meeting places or communication through a third party, such as a relative. If you live on campus, discuss with your family when and how you might leave campus in the event of an emergency.
- Have an emergency kit ready to leave campus quickly if needed. This should include important documents, some food and water, prescription medications, change of clothes, and a means of getting important information, such as a hand crank radio.
- Stock up on supplies and essential items. Prepare your home by collecting extra food and water so that you could stay at home for a period of at least two weeks. Make sure you don’t run low on prescription medications or other essential personal items.
- Be prepared to listen and follow the instructions of emergency response personnel during an emergency.Lives can be lost when people don’t work together during an emergency.