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How to Protect Your Health During a Natural Disaster

March 08, 2019
If you or someone you care for has health problems, natural disasters can bring up a whole slew of obstacles. It’s important to plan ahead so you can be ready for anything. Here are some tips to help you prepare for emergencies if you should find yourself in a life-threatening situation.

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There’s nothing scarier than when disaster strikes — forcing you to leave home and find shelter elsewhere. It’s tough to remember everything you need! Particularly if that includes health-related supplies and information for someone you care for or yourself.
 
Disasters by the numbers
 
Since 2007, the US has declared over 1,000 natural disasters.1
 
In the fall of 2017 alone, three major hurricanes impacted over 25.8 million Americans.2
 
In 2017, there were 59,985 weather-related events which resulted in 592 deaths and 4,270 injuries.3
 
Stocking your emergency health kit
 
Create a checklist and keep items in a central location. Depending on your individual situation, here are things to keep on-hand if you need to leave at a moment’s notice:
  • A 7- to 10-day supply of prescription medications in a waterproof container
  • An up-to-date list of all prescription medications, including dosage amounts and the names of generic equivalents, medical supply needs and known allergies
  • Over-the-counter medications, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines and antidiarrheal medications
  • A cooler and chemical ice packs for storing and keeping medications
  • Extra eye glasses and hearing aid batteries
  • Extra wheelchair batteries and oxygen
  • A list of medical devices, including serial numbers and special instructions for operating
  • Copies of insurance and Medicare cards
  • Contact info for doctors, relatives and friends
Don’t forget the basics
 
Along with your medicines and medical information, you’ll also want to pack:
  • Extra water, at least a gallon per person per day
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Phone or universal charger and a variety of extra batteries
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Blankets to keep warm or in case someone goes into shock
  • First aid kit
Emergency items for people with special needs
 
For those who need special care, here are a few ideas of extra things to pack in your emergency bag:
  • For the blind or people with low vision — Keep a Screen Braille Communicator on hand to help them communicate with sighted people
  • For people with mobile disabilities — Pack a cane, walker or manual wheelchair instead of an electric wheelchair
  • For people with speech disabilities — Gather laminated cards with phrases and pictograms for easier communication
  • For people with diabetes — Make sure to pack shoes and to check the feet for wounds
  • For people with autism or those caring for someone with autism — Download games and movies on your phone or tablet to keep them distracted. Use a small pop-up tent to decrease visual stimulation in busy rooms. Pack headphones to help decrease auditory distractions
Preparing for emergencies provides you with the best chance of survival. So, plan ahead, practice your evacuation route, get your emergency preparedness kit ready and, most importantly, don’t panic.