Healthy Prep for Severe Weather

As regions of the country face a three-day threat of severe weather, an emergency department physician explains how to be prepared to care for yourself and loved ones in the event of a weather emergency.

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CLEVELAND – Whether you’re bracing for a flood, tornado or storm – hazardous weather conditions can be found in every part of the country.

So, it’s important to be prepared when severe weather strikes.

Baruch Fertel, M.D., an emergency physician at Cleveland Clinic, said it’s critical to have medical information handy in case of emergency, especially if evacuation is necessary.

“Keep a list of your past medical history, the medications you take, and the surgeries or pertinent things – put them on a card, and laminate that card,” he said. “By laminating it, it can be preserved, should things get wet, and can enable other care providers to know what to do in the event of an emergency for you.” 

Dr. Fertel said individuals who take daily medications should make sure they have a good supply that will last a few days.

Those who are dependent upon electric medical devices, like home oxygen, or an artificial heart may want to consider investing in a generator in case the power goes out.

Dr. Fertel warns that a generator should only be run outdoors, away from windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

He advises people to let the power company know if someone in their home relies on an electric medical device, because sometimes companies can prioritize power during an emergency.

When the power is out, food in the refrigerator is only safe for a few hours, so it’s also important to have a few days-worth of canned goods, or other non-perishable food items available.

Water purification systems may also be impacted during a power outage, so bottled water is a must. 

“It’s important for folks to have some bottled water in durable containers so that if the power goes out, or if there’s no access to clean water, they can at least maintain water for a couple of days,” said Dr. Fertel. 

The Department of Homeland Security recommends having one gallon of water per person, per day to cover drinking and sanitation needs in an emergency situation. 

Experts also recommend having enough supplies on hand to last at least 72 hours.

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