Meet People Where They Are
CDC’s National Preparedness Month campaign materials are available to assist partners in communicating about the importance of emergency preparedness and response.
This CDC Digital Media Toolkit includes sample social media and graphics. This material is downloadable and shareable. Some of the material is customizable.
The theme of this year’s toolkit is #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre in their capabilities to prepare and respond to emergencies. Specifically, this toolkit includes messaging that
- looks at ways social determinants of health can impact personal health preparedness and response.
- suggests ways the whole community can create opportunities and conditions for everyone to prepare for and respond to emergencies to their full potential.
This emphasis builds on previous #PrepYourHealth social media content to bring additional focus to the needs of all populations affected by disasters.
What Does It Mean to Meet People Where They Are?
In the context of emergency preparedness and response, “meeting people where they are” means creating opportunities for everyone to prepare and respond to emergencies to their full potential.
It also means acknowledging that preparedness recommendations and protective actions, such as evacuation, have limitations. They may not account for conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age or how those conditions can affect a person’s opportunities to prepare and respond to their full potential.
For example, the recommendation to “set aside enough food, water, supplies, and personal needs to last at least 72 hours” may not consider the effect of poverty on a person’s access to food beyond daily use. Poverty is an example of a social determinant of health.
Protective actions are research-based actions and advice that anyone can take to prepare for, keep safe during, and recover from a disaster.
The three most common and recognizable protective actions are evacuate, shelter in place, and secure in place.
What are Social Determinants of Health?
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. They include transportation, discrimination, income, polluted air and water, poverty, and language and literacy skills.
SDOH contribute to health disparities and inequities in living, working, health, and social conditions. Inequities can limit access to resources, supplies, and services. Limitations such as these can make it difficult or impossible for some people to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
This toolkit highlights resources and promising practices that the whole community (i.e., individuals, businesses, community organizations, schools, nonprofit groups, and all levels of government) is taking to make preparedness possible for everybody.
Disparities are not personal failings. They are the preventable differences in
- the burden of disease, injury, impacts of emergencies, etc. and
- opportunities to prepare and respond to emergencies.
Recommendations to make healthy choices, such as prepare for emergencies, won’t eliminate disparities. Public health organizations and others in the whole community can take action to address SDOH.
The examples in this toolkit of the effects of SDOH on emergency preparedness and response are not exhaustive. Neither they nor the examples of interventions undertaken by the whole community address all dimensions of the issue. Examples and evidence of SDOH impacts and interventions are likely to evolve with additional research and experience.
The content of this toolkit is organized into Healthy People 2030’s five SDOH domains:
This key area includes topics such as poverty, employment, food security, and housing stability.
People’s access to steady employment and reliable income can affect their opportunities to prepare for and respond to emergencies:
- Many people, including those living in poverty, may not have the means to evacuate before an emergency, such as a hurricane.
- Families that spend more than 30% of their income on housing may not have enough money to buy earthquake or flood insurance.
- People with lower or fixed incomes may find it difficult to build an emergency fund.
- People experiencing homelessness may find it difficult to stay healthy during emergencies.
Learn more about the impacts of economic stability on risks and outcomes.
- The cost (e.g., gas & lodging) of evacuating can make it difficult for people to afford to leave home. Promising practices like @CityOfNOLA’s evacuation assistance program are examples of how the #WholeCommunity can #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre. Learn more: https://ready.nola.gov/plan/hurricane/#cae
- Most homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is too expensive for many to afford. Learn ways you can pay less. They include enrolling your community in the Community Rating System. More: https://www.floodsmart.gov/how-can-i-pay-less #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Diabetes costs add up. The 📈 price of insulin can limit people’s everyday access & ability to #RxPrep for emergencies. They might ration insulin to save money & stretch their supply. Learn safe ways to save on diabetes care: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/save-money.html #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- In an example of co-design, @NatlHCHCouncil worked with people experienced with homelessness to create flyers for others experiencing homelessness. The flyers explain how to stay safe during different emergencies: https://nhchc.org/clinical-practice/homeless-services/weather/ #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- A no-cost way to #FinancialPrep for emergencies is to collect & protect important financial information. Use @CFPB’s “Your Disaster Checklist” (offered in 8 languages) to help you keep track of account numbers, valuables, & more: http://ow.ly/lshg50IEU71. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- People experiencing food insecurity may face barriers to creating an emergency food supply. Projects like mini pantries & community fridges can help people meet everyday & emergency needs. Learn more: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2022/04/mini-pantries/ #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- A person with diabetes pays more than twice as much a year for health care as a person who doesn’t have diabetes. The rising cost of insulin can affect people’s everyday access to it and their ability to prepare for emergencies. People might start to take less than they need to stretch their supply and save money. Taking less insulin than you need is very dangerous and can even be deadly. Learn ways you can save on diabetes care safely: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/save-money.html. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Most homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage. But flood insurance is too expensive for many people to afford, especially those experiencing cost burdens. HUD defines “cost-burdened” families as those “who pay more than 30% of their income for housing.” Learn ways you can pay less for coverage: https://www.floodsmart.gov/how-can-i-pay-less. They include rallying your neighbors to enroll in the Community Rating System (CRS). Communities that establish floodplain management programs that go beyond National Flood Insurance Program requirements may get discounts on flood insurance premiums. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Food insecurity is higher for several groups, including households with incomes below the federal poverty level. People experiencing food insecurity may face barriers to creating an emergency food supply. Community-based projects, such as give-and-take bins, mini-pantries, and community fridges, are examples of how you can help others meet their needs everyday and during an emergency. Learn more: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2022/04/mini-pantries/ #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
This key area includes topics such as graduating from high school, enrolling in higher education, and understanding language and literacy.
People’s access to quality educational opportunities and resources can affect their opportunities to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
- People with limited English proficiency may not receive, understand, and take protective actions.
- People who aren’t taught media and online-search literacy skills can have difficulty identifying reputable sources of information.
- People who live in rural and lower-income communities may have fewer opportunities to get involved in organizations and activities that build resilience.
Learn more about the impacts of education access and quality on risks and outcomes.
- Everyone has a right to real-time access to information during an emergency. In Ariz., @AzEIN created a glossary of over 150 #emergency mgmt. terms to help people who are Deaf & hard-of-hearing stay informed. Learn more: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2022/03/asl-glossary/ #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Cultural & linguistic differences can influence how people understand #emergency messages. @HHSgov’s Natl CLAS Standards can help health departments respond to people’s health needs & communication preferences. More: https://thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/ #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Misinformation can spread fast during an emergency. Knowing how to determine if a source is credible is a practical skill everyone can learn. Read @UCSF’s list of “Red Flags” to know what to look for: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/evaluating-health-information #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Translating a message doesn’t make it culturally or linguistically appropriate. Organizations can improve their communication with the #WholeCommunity when they bridge differences that may contribute to miscommunication. More: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/culture.html#anchor_1630327599773. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- People who are Deaf and hard of hearing can struggle to access information in their daily lives, to say nothing of the difficulties they can face during an emergency. In Arizona, where nearly 17% of people have a hearing loss, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs created an American Sign Language (ASL) glossary of over 150 emergency management terms. The glossary is used by the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community and certified ASL interpreters to communicate emergency information during a disaster. Learn more: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2022/03/asl-glossary/ #PrepYourHealth
- Cultural and linguistic differences can influence how people understand emergency messages. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards can help health departments respond to people’s health needs and communication preferences. Download free resources, including checklists and how-to guides, at https://thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/resources/library #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
This key area includes topics such as access to health care, access to primary care, health insurance coverage, and health literacy.
People’s access to health care and understanding of their own health can affect their opportunities to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
- People who don’t have a primary care provider may find it difficult to create an emergency supply of prescription medicines.
- People who don’t have health insurance may find it difficult to stay up to date on vaccines.
- People with low health literacy may find it difficult to understand and use health information to make good emergency preparedness decisions.
Learn more about the impacts of health care access and quality on risks and outcomes.
Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
- People often don’t get mental health services they need. Concerns about stigma & cost of care can deter people with or without insurance. Lower-cost treatment options & confidential resources are available to help in an emergency: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/tools-resources/individuals/index.htm. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Low health literacy can affect everyone’s ability to manage their health care. Programs like the Medication Label Initiative make it easier for people to take medicines as directed under everyday & emergency circumstances. More: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/education-support/healthcareproviders.html#Pharmacy #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- School leaders: All students should learn health literacy skills that can help them lead healthy lives. #MeetThemWhereTheyAre with curricula & resources that teach how to find, understand, & use reputable health, including emergency, info & services: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/education-support/schools.html
- Many people don’t have access to a primary care physician. Mobile health campaigns like @UMNclinaffairs’s Mobile Health Initiative unite health professionals & community partners to deliver services, including vaccinations. More: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/he-in-action.html. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Healthcare providers (HCPs) & pharmacists #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre everyday. They’re trusted sources of info on topics like vaccines & #RxPrep. @CDCgov has resources to help HCPs & pharmacists respond to patients’ info & communication needs: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/education-support/healthcareproviders.html
- Health communicators: Writing in plain language helps all readers understand info faster. Free resources are available to help you learn plain language concepts, teach them to others, & apply them in your work: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/non-cdc-training.html#plain-language #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- People often don’t get the mental health services they need. Concerns about stigma and the cost of care can deter people with or without insurance. Help is available for people who:
- were denied coverage.
- reached a limit on their plan (such as copayments, deductibles, yearly visits, etc.).
- have an overly large copay or deductible.
Lower-cost treatment options, such as online counseling services, and free and confidential resources can help you connect with a mental health professional in an emergency. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/tools-resources/individuals/index.htm #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Many people don’t have access to a primary care physician who can help them stay up to date on vaccines. @UMNclinaffairs’s Mobile Health Initiative is an example of meeting #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre (i.e., live, work & play). Learn more about @CDCgov’s support of programs like these: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/he-in-action.html
- Healthcare providers and pharmacists #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre everyday. They are trusted sources of information on a variety of topics, such as vaccines and prescription medicines, for many people. CDC has resources to help healthcare providers and pharmacists recognize and respond to patients’ information and communication needs: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/education-support/healthcareproviders.html
This key area includes topics such as quality of housing, access to transportation, availability of healthy foods, air and water quality, and access to high-speed internet.
The physical environment people live in (e.g., the air they breathe, water they drink, houses and neighborhoods they live in, and transportation they take to work) can affect their opportunities to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
- People who do not have a reliable personal vehicle or access to public transportation may find it difficult to evacuate.
- People who live in low-income, minority, and rural communities may have limited access to emergency medical (or ambulatory) transportation.
- People who live in low-income, minority, and rural communities may be at greater risk for health impacts from power outages and planned blackouts.
Learn more about the impacts of neighborhood and built environment on risks and outcomes.
- Emergency evacuations can be difficult or impossible for people who are without a vehicle or access to public transportation. Assistance programs like those in @MiamiDadeCounty & @CityOfNOLA help people get to safety. Plan ahead: https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/planahead/myevacuationplan.htm. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Don’t own a vehicle? Identify other ways to get to safety in an evacuation:
- Carpool with neighbors.
- Ask about city-assisted evacuation.
- Call your local non-emergency police phone number.
Plan ahead: https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/planahead/myevacuationplan.htm #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Volunteer & rural Emergency Medical Services often face challenges to providing prehospital care. @mnhealth’s developed an EMS toolkit to help communities deal with everyday issues of funding, management, recruitment, etc.: https://www.health.state.mn.us/facilities/ruralhealth/emskit/index.html. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Some people are disproportionately affected by air pollution & asthma. @AirDistrict (Calif.) works w/ community partners to improve access to air filtration for people at higher risk from wildfire smoke. More: https://www.cdc.gov/air/wildfire-smoke/chronic-conditions.htm#asthma #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- People with low incomes may have limited access to air conditioning or hesitate to turn it on, putting them at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. Benefit programs are available to help with energy costs. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/lowincome.html #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Evacuations can be difficult or impossible for some people. Many don’t own a personal vehicle. Forty-five percent of people in the U.S. do not have access to public transportation. Evacuation assistance programs like those in Miami-Dade County, Fla., and the City of New Orleans, La., help people get to safety. Plan ahead: https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/planahead/myevacuationplan.htm.
- Volunteer and rural Emergency Medical Services (EMS) departments often face challenges to providing prehospital care. The Minnesota Department of Health’s EMS toolkit was developed to help rural communities face everyday issues of funding and finances, management, and recruitment and retention: https://www.health.state.mn.us/facilities/ruralhealth/emskit/index.html
- Some people, including those with lower incomes, are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses during extreme heat incidents. Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. People with lower incomes may have limited access to air conditioning or hesitate to turn it on because of high electricity costs during peak heat hours. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists eligible households with their heating and cooling energy costs. Learn more about the LIHEAP and other ways to stay cool if air conditioning is not available in your home: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/lowincome.html #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
This area includes key issues such as cohesion within a community, civic participation, discrimination, conditions in the workplace, and incarceration.
People’s interactions with and connectedness to family, friends, co-workers, and community members can affect their health, well-being, and opportunities to prepare for emergencies.
- People experiencing social isolation may find it difficult to build a personal support network.
- People who have experienced discrimination or racism are less likely to follow the instructions of government officials.
- People who have fewer opportunities for civic participation in emergency response organizations, such as Community Emergency Response Team, may find it difficult to build resilience to emergencies.
Learn more about the impacts of social and community context on risks and outcomes.
- Many community orgs like @_MealsOnWheels (MOW) #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre with more than basic services. Ex: MOW Tampa delivers #HurricanePrep supplies & shelter info to its clients. MOW Spokane collects fans to help clients stay cool during summer. More: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2021/09/more-than-meals/
- People return to sources of info they trust. Working with community orgs, faith leaders, & ethnic media to create culturally appropriate messages can help build trust before & help stop misinformation during an emergency. More: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/culture.html#anchor_1630327599773. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Racial & ethnic minority groups that experience discrimination can mistrust vaccines & those who promote them. @MultCoHealth as part of @CDCgov’s REACH program opened clinics in places like @Rosewood162 to #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre in the community. More:https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/generate-vaccinations.html
- @CDCgov partnered with @AmeriCorps to launch Public Health AmeriCorps. This program supports whole community efforts to build a diverse workforce ready to meet the response & recovery needs of the people they serve. More: https://www.americorps.gov/about/what-we-do/public-health-americorps. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- Health depts.: Learn about your community so you can #MeetThemWhereTheyAre in their preparedness & response capabilities. Tools like @CDCenvironment’s Social Vulnerability Index (https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html) can help identify communities likely to need help meeting people’s needs.
- Many community and volunteer organizations, such as @MealsonWheelsAmerica, #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre with more than basic services. For example: Every year since 2007, Meals on Wheels (MOW) Tampa’s Hurricane Preparedness Pack Program has delivered shelf-stable food, water, and shelter information to its clients. MOW Spokane collects and distributes fans to clients who need help staying cool during summer. Learn more: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2021/09/more-than-meals/.
- CDC partnered with @AmeriCorps to launch Public Health AmeriCorps. This program supports whole community efforts to build a diverse workforce that is ready to respond to the public health needs of their communities. More than 80 grantee organizations (e.g., public health agencies, national organizations, state and local governments, institutes of higher education, community health centers) are recruiting nearly 3,000 members to serve communities across the country. Learn more: https://www.americorps.gov/about/what-we-do/public-health-americorps. #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre
- People will return to a source of information they can trust. Working with community and faith leaders and ethnic-specific media to prepare and deliver culturally appropriate messages is a way to #MeetPeopleWhereTheyAre, establish trust, and help prevent misinformation during an emergency. More: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/culture.html#anchor_1630327599773
- Access and Functional Needs Toolkit: Integrating a Community Partner Network to Inform Risk Communication Strategies
- Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit
- Ways Health Departments Can Help Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations
- Community Engagement Playbook
- Community Organizations
- Preventing Chronic Diseases and Promoting Health in Rural Communities