Today, June 1st, is the official start of the 2022 hurricane season, and all U.S. forecasting models expect another busier-than-average season. For those with special healthcare needs, having thorough preparedness plans in place is vitally important.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting 14-21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6-10 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), and 3-6 will strengthen into major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
Just like the previous two years, every hurricane kit should still be stocked with some COVID-19 pandemic necessities, experts agree. That includes hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and at least two face masks for everyone in your household — this is especially important if you and your family live in evacuation zones and must relocate to designated public shelters to ride out a hurricane.
For crucial information, here are the official South Florida hurricane preparedness sites for Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties. Additionally, here is the state of Florida’s list of eligible items that qualify for the 2022 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday through June 10, 2022.
“It only takes one storm to damage your home, neighborhood and community,” stated Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “Preparedness is key to resilience, and now is the time to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season.”
Have a Plan for Sheltering
Individuals who require electrical equipment for at-home medical care should be ready for power outages if a storm approaches.
“People with medical needs should anticipate losing power, which usually happens with hurricanes,” says John Braden, M.D., Baptist Health South Florida’s medical director for emergency preparedness. “If you have electrically dependent equipment, such as oxygen concentrators, monitors, CPAP machines for sleeping or other equipment, you need to find evacuation centers that are going to be able to support you and hopefully have back-up power ready to go if needed.”
Emergency preparedness experts stress the importance of being thoroughly prepared early in the Hurricane Season with emergency food, water, medications and any necessary medical supplies.
Avoid Pre- and Post-Storm Injuries
Before and after a storm, everyone should continue to treat diagnosed conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, because the additional stress from preparing for and riding out a storm can have an impact on one’s health. Moreover, getting your prescribed medication refills may be difficult or impossible immediately after a storm.
All residents should be very cautious when preparing a home before the storm, especially when putting up shutters or moving large items around the home. After the storm is when most of the area’s emergency rooms become busy with injuries that can be avoided, such as mishaps that occur while removing debris or climbing ladders to remove shutters or doing minor roof repairs.
“When I was working in the ER after Hurricane Irma (in 2017), there were so many people that went outside in the dark that fell over debris and hit their heads,” recalls Dr. Braden. “They didn’t have adequate flashlights. So, make sure you are careful and have good flashlights.”
Tips from the CDC
Here are more hurricane preparedness tips from the CDC:
- Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including potential shelters for your pets and shelters for any family members with special medical needs.
- If you may need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as several clean face masks for everyone age 2 or older. They should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.