In the last few years we have seen millions of Americans displaced and suffering because of natural disasters. The experts all agree that such an event is likely to strike the Northeastern United States sooner or later. Being prepared for such events is essential. One reason to be prepared is because it ensures the survival and relative comfort of your family. The other reason is because it makes things less chaotic for rescuers and relief crews. If you are able to manage your life without any help, it frees up rescue teams to handle those who are truly in need of their help. Should a natural disaster arise, there are many actions that you can take both before and after the event to ensure your well being and safety. Hurricanes, floods, ice storms, major snow storms and prolonged electric loss each create different circumstances that you must address.
In an emergency, there may be major damage to the infrastructure (roads, power grids, water supply, gas stations) around us. Having your car fueled and ready to go is not enough if the roads cannot be traversed. If an alarm is sounded and you are advised to leave, it is important that you do so immediately, as the roads will get congested quickly. Have a plan, destination and route in mind. Be sure you have emergency supplies available for both home and your car. It is nice to have some cash; with the power out and the telephone system down, ATMs and credit card machines are not going to work.
You should have an adequate supply of batteries, flashlights (consider hand-cranked or glow sticks), extra flashlight bulbs, canned foods, a manual can opener, first aid supplies, seasonal clothing (cool or warm), blankets, a hand-crank portable radio, walkie-talkies (cell towers may not be powered), etc. It is recommended that you store these materials in a cool, secure place inside your home. Having a small piece of luggage or back pack ("Go Bag") prepared will make your moving that much easier. Do not forget to safely store your passport, credit cards and insurance information, and have copies of them in the Go Bag, and to have a week's supply of any prescription medications available. Most importantly, all family members should have contact information (preferably with someone outside the possible disaster area) for after the emergency. FEMA has more suggestions for preparing a Family Disaster Supplies Kit, and the New York City Office of Emergency Management has an excellent brochure entitled Ready New York.
If you are going to ride out the emergency at home:
The ICE Campaign: The 'ICE' (In Case of Emergency) Campaign idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with the patients, but they didn't know which number to call. Yes, there were hundreds of numbers stored, but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency? All you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name 'ICE' (In Case Of Emergency). In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as 'ICE.' For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3, etc.
Text First. Talk Second. Campaign: When disasters strike, voice networks can become congested with people trying to call each other for non-vital communications. This can result in people in desperate need of help being unable to contact those they need to reach, such as emergency services, friends or loved ones. In some instances, this may also result in emergency service personnel being unable to communicate with each other. In order to raise public awareness around the importance of utilizing text messaging for non-emergency communications during a disaster Safe America is recommending the following:
Take the time to check travel alerts posted online before you travel. Travel Alerts for natural disasters, terrorist attacks and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are routinely issued by the State department to inform travelers of short-term conditions that could pose imminent risk to their security. Visit www.travel.state.gov for more information.
Professionals should have their community officials confidentially know their contact information. Professionals may also consider joining their local Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) to make themselves available and for further training if so inclined. Information for disaster preparedness for the physician in private practice can be found on the AAP's Practice Management Online website (login required). For those involved in Emergency Department management, the AAP have revised an Emergency Department Checklist.
The September 2009 issue of the journal Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine is being made available to you electronically, free-of-charge. The issue is titled "Pediatric Disaster Readiness" and includes articles drafted by Michael Shannon, MD, MPH, FAAP and many other AAP member disaster preparedness experts. Much thanks to Theresa Monturano on behalf of the publisher Elsevier Inc.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has published "The Youngest Victims: Disaster Preparedness to Meet Children's Needs" which provides principles and key messages to guide in the development of public policies and community and state planning for emergencies.
From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Infant Nutrition During a
Disaster: Breastfeeding and Other Options - very thought-provoking
brochure by the AAP
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has suggestions for "Helping Children After a Disaster." They can be found at http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/disaster.htm
The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence - a web site maintained by Yale University, supported by a grant from the US Department of Justice.
From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - How
to Respond to an Active Shooter
The AAP Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council has been hard at work developing a strategic plan for the AAP and responding to requests for pediatric input or involvement in national efforts. Some information is available at its newly redesigned web site Children and Disasters.
Click here for the most recent edition of the American Academy of Pediatrics Disaster Preparedness and Response newsletter from the Advisory Council.
Information for those affected by Hurricane Sandy:
Emergency Contact Phone Numbers:
Disclaimer: The medical information on the above web pages and their internal links are the sole responsibility of the designers of those sites. New York Chapter 2 has not verified the medical data on these sites. You should use the information from these sources at your own discretion.
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