Public Health Emergencies

Learn how to protect yourself and your family in the threat of illness.

Table of Contents


What Is a Public Health Emergency?

A public health emergency is a defined as "an occurrence or imminent threat of an illness or health condition, caused by bio terrorism, epidemic or pandemic disease, or an infectious agent or biological toxin, that poses a substantial risk to humans by either causing a significant number of human fatalities or permanent or long-term disability." Public health emergencies also include influenza, or “the Flu”.

Why Prepare?

By preparing for a public health emergency, you can lessen the threat of illness to yourself and others.

General Emergency Preparedness Tips

How you should react to a public health emergency will depend on the emergency itself — every situation is different, and different factors will impact the decisions made by state officials. However, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your family in any emergency:

  • Be informed by receiving alerts, warnings, and public safety information before, during, and after emergencies.
  • Create and review your family emergency plan.
  • Assemble an emergency kit.
  • Monitor the media for emergency information and follow instructions from public safety officials.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness Tips

  • Discuss potential vaccines (such as the flu vaccine) with your healthcare provider.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with tissues.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you are sick, avoid others and stay home from work.

For more information about public health preparedness, the flu, and specific disease outbreaks, see the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) websites.

Help Us Improve  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.