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Ref: New California emergency preparedness website launched

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04/03/07 7:45 PDT

California's new director of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Mark Horton, kicked off Public Health Week this week by launching a new Web site dedicated to emergency preparedness,

The Web site will provide information in 12 languages other than English: Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Farsi, Hmong, Korean, Lao, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese, according to California Department of Health Services spokesman Ken August. It is designed to proved basic information such as how to develop a disaster plan or prepare an emergency supply kit.

"Everyone has a responsibility for emergency preparedness,'' Horton said in a statement. "This new Web site gives Californians the information they need to get ready before the next earthquake, fire, flood or other emergency strikes.''

The site also breaks down different disaster tips for families, businesses, schools and health providers, reported August. Families can get advice on how to talk to their children about disasters and learn planning tips for what to do for pets or livestock during the disaster. Business owners can learn how to contact their employees during an emergency and how to help them cope with stress after an emergency occurs.

The Web site will also carry information about the various public health threats such as anthrax, smallpox, a chemical attack, and pandemic influenza, reported August.

"We hope 'Be Prepared California' will become the 'go-to' Web site for public health emergency preparedness in our state,'' said Horton.

Gov. Schwarzenegger named Horton director of the newly formed department during a news conference on Monday morning, according to August. The governor established the new department and is reorganizing the current California Department of Health Services in an effort to elevate awareness of public health and safety in California.

The Department of Public Health will be formed on July 1, 2007, as part of the health legislation that the governor signed last August, reported August. At that point the Department of Public Health will cover emergency preparedness and public health, while the Department of Health Services, previously the California Department of Health Services, will cover MediCal and other health insurance programs.

The health services department currently provides crisis and emergency risk training to local health leaders, and conducts forums that focus on strengthening the preparedness of groups that will face greater risks during an emergency, according to August. They also translate preparedness materials into a variety of languages and develop low literacy documents.

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