8 Tips to Weather the Storms

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May 31, 2013


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This post is available in: Spanish

Admit it – you’re one of those people lined up at Publix or Home Depot 24 hours before a hurricane threatens the area.

You think again to yourself, “Why do I put myself through this every year?”

So why do you?

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is here and the time to prepare is now, especially when it comes to your family’s health and well-being.

Use these tips from emergency room physician John Braden, M.D., Baptist Health South Florida’s Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness and Security, to prepare your family now for medical emergencies that may arise before, during or after a storm.

1.    Take an inventory of all your family’s prescription medications taken on a regular basis and work with your doctors and pharmacist to get an extra month’s supply before a storm threatens.  Remember, some insurance companies restrict supplies of prescriptions to one month at a time.  If you’re running low on a medication when a storm threatens, you may not be able to get your prescription if your pharmacy closes during and after a storm or its suppliers cannot make it to our community.

2.    Don’t go crazy for ice.  Medications, including insulin, don’t go bad the moment they hit room temperature.   The increased temperature shortens their shelf life a small amount.  Just avoid putting these medications directly in the sun.

3.    Prevent “shutter foot” and hand injuries during storm preps and after a storm passes by wearing closed-toe shoes, like leather shoes or hiking boots, and gloves.  In the ER, we see injuries requiring stitches when people drop sharp hurricane shutters on their feet, which are “protected” only by flip flops or sandals.

4.    Keep a first aid kit in an accessible place.  In the kit, you should have bandages of all sizes, rubbing alcohol or peroxide, antibiotic cream, gauze, sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 and instant cold packs that activate with pressure.

5.    Stock up on mosquito spray.  When power outages happen in the wake of a storm, open windows invite the insects inside.  In the past, these pests were just a nuisance, but now we’re seeing more and more cases of Dengue fever and equine encephalitis in South Florida.  Both of these are serious viral illnesses carried by mosquitoes.

6.    Start purchasing non perishable foods and drinking water at the beginning of Hurricane Season.  While it’s unlikely that our water supply will be cut off, low water pressure can increase the chance of contaminants in the water.  The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department recommends boiling water for at least one minute or using 8 drops or 1/8 teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water and letting the water stand at least 30 minutes before using to ensure it’s safe for drinking.

7.    For babies, be sure to stock up on diapers, baby wipes, formula and bottled drinking water to prepare it, and baby food.

8.    Check your supply of batteries for any leaking ones and carefully dispose of them, without directly touching the leaking acid.

Hospitals must prepare year-round for the threat of a hurricane or tropical storm.  Families should dust off their hurricane plans at the beginning of the season when calm prevails.

Remember to check out Baptist Health’s Weathering the Storms blog, written by Chief Operating Officer Wayne Brackin, who led Hurricane Andrew recovery efforts at Homestead Hospital and learned a lot from the experience.

For other helpful tips to prepare your home, FEMA offers a checklist.

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