It’s Disaster Preparedness Month, friends.
Nurses aren’t new to toxic and stressful situations. With the amount of chaos you face every day, you might easily shrug off the idea of creating a disaster preparedness plan.
Being physically and mentally prepared, however, is extremely important during a disaster. And keeping a family and personal disaster plan counts a lot. Since you spend a lot of time in the hospital, you need to make sure that your loved ones at home can look after themselves while you’re gone and a disaster strikes.
To help you create your plan, here are 6 disaster preparedness tips you can use.
1Be mentally prepared
Assuming that nothing wrong can happen while you’re gone already makes you more vulnerable during a disaster. That’s because fear and stress can easily cloud your thinking. And if you don’t have a plan or a kit prepared, you’re up for more trouble.
Anticipate and plan ahead of time. Knowing that there’s an emergency kit ready and a plan in place can help reassure your brain that you have everything under control. The idea can soothe a lot of stress and you’ll be able to think more clearly.
2Establish family meeting spots
Since disaster can strike unexpectedly, it’s a good idea if you and your family can set up multiple meeting spots. This is to ensure that your family will get reconnected with each other no matter where disaster strikes.
Inside your home
Set a specific place at home where your family can stay. It can be your basement, bathroom or any room at home that’s windowless. These areas can keep you safe in case natural disasters strike, like tornadoes, hurricanes or storms.
In your neighborhood
In the event that a disaster happens while you’re outdoors or it caused you to get separated from your family, make sure that all members know where they need to head to. It can be your neighbor’s house, a big tree around the block or your neighborhood park.
In case you’re in the hospital and your kids are at school when disaster strikes, you should have a specific area in town where you can meet. Your good options include the public library, a community center or a friend’s house. If evacuation becomes necessary, your safe meeting place can be a relative’s house out of town.
3Prepare a go-bag
Preparing one go-bag for the entire family might sound practical but it’s not the best way to be ready for a disaster. Ideally, you should prepare a go-bag for each member of your family. This includes the kids, elders and those who have special needs. This way, you’ll be sure that they have everything they need to survive.
A basic go-bag includes the following:
- Food items that are easy to prepare and non-perishable. Don’t forget to bring a mechanical can opener. Waterproof matches and lighters would be great, too.
- An emergency blanket or tent
- Flashlights, with extra batteries and bulbs
- First aid kit and a one-week supply of your medications
- 1 to 2 gallons of water for each person, per day
- Personal hygiene items
- Your personal documents, like your passport, birth certificate, and insurance policies, placed in a waterproof envelope.
- Battery-operated radio
- Extra battery and charger for your phone
Once you have gathered everything, make sure you assemble them in your bag in a way that they are ready to be used. Double check if they are working properly, particularly your flashlights and radio. And, make sure no one sneaks out a snack or any item from the bag once you are done packing.
4Practice your preparedness plan
You can always create a preparedness plan but you’ll never know its effectiveness until you put it into practice. Physically practicing your plan can help you see what changes you need to do and how your family and the people around you can react to it. Routinely play out your plan every 6 months. You can also check out your supplies during those times to ensure that no item is expired, spoiled or needs to be thrown out.
5Talk to your neighbors
No man can live alone and that goes particularly true even during disasters. Talk to your neighbors and find out how you can draft a plan that will work for everyone.
Find out who has specialized equipment that can be valuable during an emergency, like power generators. Assign people who will look after the elderly, disabled neighbors and kids. As a nurse, you can volunteer your expertise and medical knowledge.
6Know the emergency preparedness plan of your institution
If a disaster strikes while you’re at work in the hospital, it doesn’t completely guarantee you of your safety. In fact, your responsibility gets greatly magnified. Aside from your personal safety, you’ll also be responsible for the safety of your patients.
Make sure you know the exit points in the hospital and the evacuation protocol the institution has in place. Double check the emergency supplies to ensure that everything is working perfectly and no medications are expired. You should know exactly where you can get them.
Apart from these things, you should also gauge your hospital’s capacity to handle the surge of victims who are likely to seek health and medical assistance. Know which facilities you can direct the patients and how you can alert them. Communication and proper coordination are two things you shouldn’t neglect when drafting your disaster preparedness plan.