With the recent fires on the west coast and so many people had to leave their homes in such a hurry I decided to write this blog post. If anything, 2020 has taught us as a nation natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and emergencies can have widespread and even long-lasting impacts on supplies, services, and the public health and health care systems. So why do only 28% of Americans have an emergency preparedness kit?
Emergency Action Plan
This is more than a collection of names and phone numbers. It is your Emergency Action Plan this is what you are going to do when it is time to go. What will you do where will you go? How will you get there? These are the steps you are going to take to get out and on your way to safety. 80 percent of respondents to FEMA’s 2019 National Household Survey said they had gathered enough Supplies to last three or more days. Just 48 percent said they had an emergency action plan. · Find phone numbers for your physician, pediatrician, pharmacist, counselor, Poison Control Center, and veterinarian.
- Collect and protect important paperwork, such as advance directives (e.g., living wills and power of attorney forms)
- Ask a friend or relative who lives outside of the immediate area—preferably in another state to be your family’s Out-of-Town Contact.
Identify a shelter-in-place location inside your home, a “sick room” that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy, · Make two emergency meeting places outside your home where your family can reunite in an emergency. Discuss at least two ways out of every room in your home.
- Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals where you can lodge your pets if needed.
- Does the school have a family reunification plan?
What Does “Take Action” Mean? Taking action is about improving your capability to protect your health and wellness during an emergency. It includes gathering essential supplies, learning self-help skill, and gaining the self-confidence you need to respond during an emergency. Be prepared for when emergency supplies are not available. Where do we start?
- Pack emergency supplies in a portable and durable container, such as a plastic bin, duffle bag, backpack, trash can with a lid, and/or carry-on luggage. If you live in a flood zone you might choose to make it waterproof.
- Stock canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation.
- Store at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and each pet. Store more water for hot climates for pregnant, and for people who are sick.
About half of all Americans take a prescribed medication as part of their daily routine. Chances are if you were involved in an emergency or disaster the pharmacy and doctors’ offices might not be open.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of essential medications.
- An up-to-date list of all prescription medications that also includes information on diagnosis, dosage, frequency, medical supply needs, and known allergies.
- Nonprescription drugs, including pain and fever relievers, diuretics, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medications.
- A cooler and chemical ice packs for storing and keeping medicines that require refrigeration cold.
According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 31 percent of hurricane-related emergency department visits in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence were for medication refills. Effective messaging to the public, health care providers, and pharmacists before hurricanes should emphasize the importance of prescription preparedness. Here are the links for Oregon and Washington. Oregon Emergency Pharmacy Rules, Washington Emergency Pharmacy Rules
Any important documents and personal data that might serve as proof of insurance or identity or instruct others on how to help you in an emergency. Here are some of the basics.
- Copies of insurance cards and medical records, such as your Health insurance card, Immunization any vital records, including birth certificates and death certificates.
- Personal identification, such as Driver’s license, Social Security Card and Passport,
· cash in small denominations and coins in case ATMs and pay-at-the-pump gasoline systems are out of order.
- Store external drives and hardcopies of important papers in a fireproof and water-resistant file organizer, container or storage bag, with a trusted friend or relative, or in a safety deposit box at a bank.
- Digitize hard copies and save electronic copies of important papers in a password-protected format to a flash or external hard drive or a secure cloud service.
- Pet owners: Make copies of important vet information, such as a Rabies certificate, vaccinations, prescriptions, a recent photograph of your pet(s), and microchip registration information (e.g., microchip number, and name and number of the manufacturer).
- Request your medical records from your health care provider to help you understand, advocate for, and manage your health care.
On average, people experience about four hours of power loss each year. Power outages caused by a large-scale disaster can last longer and be life threatening for people who depend on home use medical devices. Here are a few tips on how to be prepared if you should lose power during an emergency.
- Emergency lighting, such as a flashlight, head lamp, or battery-powered lantern
- Extra batteries in common sizes, such as AA and AAA
- A generator with at least 20 feet of extension cord(s) rated for outdoor use and enough fuel to keep it running.
- Car charger(s), power banks, and adapters for home use equipment and devices
- A battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA weather radio with USB port(s)
- Battery-powered or -backup smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors
- Appliance thermometers for your refrigerator and freezer
- A surge protector power strip(s)
- Warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, and emergency (or space) blankets to keep you warm in cold temperatures
I hope this helps you on your way to making an Emergency action plan. Making a kit is great but it is not the end. Other things to think about. · Take a video of all the things in your house for insurance purposes. This will help adjusters and save time in closing your claim. Make sure to get all the valuables and electronics. Take a CPR class and learn some basic first aid. You never know when you will need these skills. Take a survival class. This is not all about being lost in the woods. Survival tip can be useful when you are out of power and everything is closed.