If you woke up one morning and found that your home was in the path of a natural disaster, like a wildfire or a hurricane, would you know what to do to stay safe? In these scenarios, there is often little time to react, so having a plan before it happens can be critical to your safety and survival. Do you know what to do to be prepared?
- So how can you protect your family? Is it possible to avoid these dangers completely? Since many natural disasters are random events of nature, the answer is no. Instead of trying to avoid disasters, you’re better off learning how to manage them. This starts with understanding the health and safety risks associated with each type of disaster, and the critical first aid that can make the difference between life and death in the aftermath.
- This guide is intended to give you the tools you need to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Remember, after a disaster, emergency professionals are stretched thin. They may not be able to address your particular need quickly as they tend to those who are severely injured or trapped. By learning what to do, you can improve your chances of surviving the next disaster in your area. Whether you are in an area that is prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, tsunamis or wildfires, you can have a plan for these events.
Hurricanes and Tornadoes
Hurricanes and tornadoes are both powerful storms that can cause widespread damage due to high winds and damaging rains. In coastal areas, hurricanes are the biggest risk, while in the central part of the country tornadoes are a bigger problem. Both types of catastrophes pose serious health risks that can lead to loss of life. Four hurricanes made landfall and an estimated 1,406 tornadoes touched down in the United States in 2017, killing more than 450 people and costing the country $306.2 billion.
If you live in an area that is prone to either one of these types of storms, you smut know how to protect yourself. Here are some important health and safety tips that will ensure you know what to do to stay as safe as possible while dealing with these severe storm events.
The key to being safe and healthy in the midst of a storm is knowing the risks a storm poses. For hurricanes and tornadoes, these tips will help:
· Understand the risk of impact injuries. Flying debris can kill if it hits someone, and this is a common problem associated with wind storms like hurricanes and tornadoes.
· Know what to do for serious cuts and abrasions. Debris on the ground or hurtling through the air can cause cuts, abrasions, and lacerations. The presence of bacteria in debris and flood water makes the risk of infection quite high. For cuts, wash hands thoroughly before treating, then apply pressure to control bleeding. Clean the wound with clean water or soap and water, and cover.
· If you cannot clean a wound, leave it open. Unclean wounds that are covered are more likely to become seriously infected because the bacteria is trapped inside the damaged area.
· Reassess wounds every 24 hours. Watch for signs of infection and get medical help as quickly as possible if infection begins.
“A wound may have some or all of these signs at the site of the wound,” Williams said. “A wound may also cause systemic infection with fever, malaise, and generalized discomfort/pain. Any redness or streaks visible on the skin between the wound and the heart should be reported to medical personnel immediately. This is an early sign of the infection becoming systemic.”
· Protect the spinal cord if back injuries are suspected. After a serious wind storm, spinal cord injuries are common. Using a backboard to transport someone can help limit the impact of these injuries.
If you know you’re going to be facing a hurricane or know that tornado season is approaching, there are some steps to take to ensure you’re as safe as possible. Here are some of them:
· Stockpile supplies to last at least one week. If the storm creates the worst possible damage, leaving you without power, having at least one week’s worth of food and clean drinking water will help you manage until help arrives. If that is not possible, aim for three days’ worth of food and water. Choose non-perishable items and don’t forget to put a manual can opener with your stash. Don’t forget baby food and formula if you have babies in the home.
· Stock a first aid kit. Your first aid kit should have bandages and tape, wound dressing, antiseptic sprays and creams, basic over-the-counter medicines, and any essential medications for members of your family.
· Set aside a radio, batteries, cell phone charger, and flashlight. These items will help you take care of yourself and your family while monitoring for information from emergency professionals as you prepare to ride out the storm.
· Get training. First aid and disaster preparedness training are critical if you live in an area that is prone to these types of storms. This training will ensure that you are fully prepared should you experience a disaster.
· Get a tetanus shot. If your immunizations are not up-to-date, get a tetanus shot. You are very likely to be exposed to this pathogen in the aftermath of a serious storm.
If a hurricane hits, here’s what you need to do:
· Make the home as safe as possible. Close interior doors, stay in an interior room of the home and avoid windows if possible.
· Use batteries, not fuel. If you need light, use a flashlight, not a candle or kerosene lamp that could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
· Stay inside until the risk passes. Use the weather radio to know when the hurricane is over. Don’t venture outside just because it seems calm, as you may be in the eye of the storm. After the eye, the most damaging part of the storm will hit, and you don’t want to be outside when it does.
If a tornado warning is sounded in your area, here’s what you need to do to stay safe.
· Go to the basement. This is the safest place in a tornado. If your home doesn’t have a basement, head to an interior room, like a bathroom, or a closet. Stay away from windows and doors.
· Prepare for power outages. You will want battery-powered lighting and a radio to ensure you can be safe. Consider keeping a portable battery charger on hand during tornado season so you can charge your phone.
· Put on shoes. Should the tornado hit your neighborhood, you may not be able to find your shoes. Put on sturdy shoes so you are not injured walking on broken glass, wood, nails and other debris after the storm has passed.
· Add a whistle to your disaster supply kit. In tornadoes, it’s highly likely that you will become trapped if your home is hit. A whistle will help you signal for help.
· Crouch and cover during the worst of the storm. If the storm is hitting your home or neighborhood, head to your shelter, crouch low to the ground, and cover your head with your hands and arms.