May 28, 2014
Get ready during National Hurricane Preparedness Week
A statement from Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response
History has taught us time and again just how dangerous and destructive hurricanes and other forces of nature can be. During National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 25-31, we have the opportunity to ensure that our families and communities are healthy and prepared for this hurricane season.
The first thing to do is exactly what many of us already do; getting the health care we need to stay healthy every day. People who are healthy before disasters are less likely to become ill or injured during the disaster, and are able to bounce back faster. And if you have health insurance, make sure you know how to use it to get care. This will help you now, and make you more self-reliant and resilient during a storm.
But health care isn’t the only thing. Having a strong network of family, friends and community ties is central to being prepared. Knowing who you can call on in a time of need can be a source of security for you and others. And importantly, knowing who might need to call on you means you’ll be ready to take care of those you love. Talk with neighbors, family and friends about what each of you will do during a disaster, how you can help each other cope, and what kind of help each person may need.
What if you or a loved one requires electricity to run medical equipment like a nebulizer, oxygen concentrator, or ventilator, or refrigeration to keep medicine cool? Now is the time to think ahead about how you’ll be able to recharge the equipment battery. Let your local emergency management agency know you have a medical need so emergency responders can plan to help you quickly during an emergency.
Hurricane planning also requires that you stay aware so you can act quickly should you have to evacuate. Check with your local cell phone provider about setting up alerts for inclement weather, develop an evacuation plan, and pack a go kit - including medicines. If you have a health condition that requires taking medication every day, think about what you’ll need. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a copy of your current prescriptions, and talk with your doctor about having a backup supply of medication. You might want to create an electronic record of your health information to access it wherever you may need to get health care services. If you use dialysis or care for someone who does, map out alternative locations and ask staff at your dialysis center about the facility’s emergency plans.
If you are a medical provider, make sure you have a contingency plan in place in case your practice location is damaged and not accessible during an emergency or disaster.
Preparing to protect your health, and the health and well-being of your loved ones this hurricane season is vital. Getting ready helps each of us and our communities become more resilient and prepared for any type of emergency.
For more information on how to plan to stay healthy and safe in any type of natural disaster, visit www.phe.gov/hurricanes.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: May 28, 2014