With our illness the majority of us are "blessed"with anxiety and depression. This is more or less a common side effect. Not being prepared for emergencies can amplify these.
The major factor that influences us adversely is stress. We can reduce stress by pre-planning for emergencies and being prepared for certain things that we know may happen. This is especially true in areas where you are susceptible to major weather changes and disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes. We are not like our counterparts who can hope for the best and survive with no problem. We must be certain that areas of particular concern to us and our illness are addressed.
We will start with medical emergencies first.
Preparation for medical emergencies:
1. Notify your local ambulance service of your illness, address and where your emergency medical records are kept.
2. Notify your local fire department and local emergency management coordinator of the same thing and also if you are on oxygen. They will need to know this to insure that they keep enough back up cylinders on hand for emergencies and also that your home does have oxygen components in case of fire.
3. Make sure that your house number is clearly visible from the street and lit up if possible. This will make it much easier to locate you in case of emergencies.
4. Prepare a record of all your medical information which we will cover in a later segment.
5. Obtain and wear the necessary medical ID bracelet or pendant to insure all allergies and notification of illnesses, including COPD, is accessible.
6. Obtain a cell phone for 911 purposes. This could save your life if phone lines are inoperable or you are in a situation where a regular phone is not accessible. If you contact your local police department or emergency management officials they may be aware of a program where these can be obtained free for the disabled and handicapped.
7. If you live alone insure that you have someone to contact you immediately during an emergency situation, preferably by cell phone. If something is wrong they will know it and you can also test your cell phone at the same time to insure that it is working in case you should need it.
Weather related preparations for emergencies:
1. Most power companies will not be responsible for power lines from your house to their pole or connections. To make sure that there is no loss of power during storms keep the limbs trimmed back in good weather. This will prevent broken power lines and possible preventable emergencies. This same thing applies to any tree limbs that might be hanging above your roof or outbuildings.
2. Prepare a kit for emergencies. This should include a flashlight/with extra batteries. Insure the batteries are not left in the flashlight while in storage.
A portable battery operated radio/with extra batteries. A 3 day supply of non perishable items such as canned meat, fruit, water, crackers, candles and
matches, a 3 day supply of meds and a can of sterno if desired to heat food materials. Coordinate with your oxygen supply company on their emergency procedures and if they will issue extra oxygen backup prior to an emergency.
3. Keep a bag of salt or chemicals to melt ice on the inside of the house in the winter time. This will prevent you from having to risk icy steps and sidewalks when you leave the house. You can salt ahead of you as you go out. If you are unable to clear sidewalks and steps make prior arrangements to have them cleared for you.
4. If you desire you may purchase a portable generator to supplement power in case of power outage. However, these are rather "pricey" and require a lot of maintenance. They will not put out enough watts and amperage to meet the needs of the entire house unless you invest a large amount of money for a high power output unit. These also must be maintained year round and started often to insure they are kept in working order.
Emergency situations in General:
1. When traveling always insure you have extra water, duct tape and a knife. This can be invaluable in repairing automobile broken water hoses yourself, if physically able.
2. If you drive, have your vehicle serviced regularly and checked thoroughly at least every six months. The worst major stress factor there is to get be stranded on the side of the road with automobile trouble that could have been avoided by using preventive measures.
3. When traveling outside your local area always insure that you have your personal medical records with you. They could be invaluable in case of an emergency or accident.
We have to stay more prepared for every possible contingency because of our high level of stress and unique requirements due to our illness. This is why the boy scout motto "Be Prepared" should become ours as well. Preparedness results in less stress and fewer unnecessary exacerbations. If you reallythink about it we are not unique in these requirements. If everyone would take these steps then they would also be better off and more equipped to handle emergencies. Only proving once again that our illness can be used to keep us more aware and ahead of every one else.