In the wake of Hurricane Irene which poundedthe Eastern Shore in late August, and unprecedented earthquakes, floods, fires and
other natural disasters this year, we would like
to discuss emergency preparedness guidelines
for patients and their families.
Bob McCoy, RRT and Managing Director at
Valley Inspired Products in Apple Valley, MN,
provides such services to COPD patients and
has offered the following recommendations if
you are placed in an emergency situation
Stay Calmthe worst thing anyone can do is
to panic, since this could precipitate
breathing problems. Think logically and
objectively, and keep your wits about you. Be
prepared and act smart.
Assess the Environmentwhat you inhale is
a primary concern. Since the air can become
compromised, always have ready access to a
mask that can filter out particles. Remember
that severe humidity oven accompanies
hurricanes, so try to control the air quality in
your surroundings to ensure clean, filtered air
that is the right temperature. This could
become a challenge with power outages.
Back-up Equipmentmake sure you have
access to equipment that will ensure your
survival until the disaster is over. Ask your
homecare company for an E-Tank (emergency
back-up). This is critical since you may be
evacuated to a shelter or destination that is one or
two hours away from your home. A responsible
home care company will give you what you need;
if necessary, ask your medical doctor or an
advocate from the hospital to tell the healthcare
company that you need this equipment.
Prepare for Electricity Outages be sure to
have a gas-powered system with cylinders as a
back-up power supply. Liquid oxygen is also an
option, although it is quite expensive. Gas-
powered generators are another alternative but
also plan to have some extra fuel.
Emergency Medicine Packrescue medicines
should be allocated and easily available. Make a
list of all your medications since you may not
be able to remember exact medication names
and correct dosages.
Conduct a Mock Disaster Drillpose some
questions: What if the power goes out? What
do I do if there is a flood? Everyone lives with
possibility of a disaster, it is important to have a
full tank of gas and a portable system.
Educate Your Neighbors and Friendsvisit
your friends in the community and simply say,
?is is what Ill need in case of an emergency.
You will quickly discover how good a friend
you have and what kind of help you can expect.
Contact Police, Fire Departments, Power
Companies, Utility and Public Service
Providersnotify all in advance that you have
COPD: I am a patient who requires oxygen.
Some organizations may be willing to enter this
information in their databases. Keep these
contacts and telephone numbers handy in case
Stay Motivated to Be HealthyCOPD is a
chronic disease, so try to be as physically fit as
possible within your limitations. Participate in
pulmonary rehabilitation programs so that you
are able to walk 10-50 feet if necessary. Condition
yourself to be in optimal shape, and it could be a
lifesaver if you are forced to evacuate your home
or leave your location. Exercise is important
when you have lung disease.
Share Your Experiencesgo to a support
group and learn from others. Your positive
experiences dealing with emergencies can
help others to cope with disaster.