Guidelines for Nurses: How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster
Emergency Preparedness: Disaster Preparation for the Homebound Patient
In the wake of hurricane Sandy, a super storm that divested many areas of the Northeast, I thought I’d share how our home care agency put into effect an emergency preparedness and disaster preparation plan for the homebound patient and their caregivers.
This information can also be used by anyone, even if you’re not a nurse, who is caring for a loved one at home. We were given ample time to prepare for this storm so here’s a list of what we did to help our homebound patient be safe at home and what you can do, as a caregiver, in the future to prepare for a natural disaster.
■We ordered supplies for those using medical supplies on a regular basis such as wound care items, diabetics who test their blood glucose daily, those dependent on oxygen or nebulizer treatments etc. We made sure they had enough medical supplies to last a week.
■We arranged for a patient’s support network to check in with their loved ones. We called family members and friends to ensure they would be checking in with their loved ones and keeping our home care agency updated on emergency needs.
■We obtained house keys from those patients who may not be able to get to their door or if police or fire department needed access to their homes.
■We notified local fire departments and Power Company of those patients who were ventilator or oxygen dependent.
■We helped put together a “carry with you” supply kit in case of evacuation, which included medications ( 5 days’ worth) along with their medication list, identification, glasses, extra clothing, important documents – insurance papers and health information.
■Gave them a list of radio stations to tune into for information on emergency shelters to go to in their communities if needed and we strongly encouraged them to heed warnings, if instructed to evacuate to do so. But if they planned to stay put, we asked them to call or send us text messages to let us know that they were safe or if they needed help.
■Helped them prepare an emergency kit for their pets also. After Hurricane Katrina, we all learned the importance of being allowed to take your pets with you. This was so important to many of our patients so we made sure their pets had adequate food supply and ordered extra medications for them, too.
■And last but not least, we made sure they had batteries, flashlights, a battery powered radio, water, nonperishable foods and cell phones, laptops were charged.
I am happy to report our patients made it through this storm without incident. A huge thank you to the medical supply companies and pharmacies that made sure our disaster preparation plan worked by all of us working together to ensure patient safety came first.