Posts Tagged ‘hurricane’

Breastfeeding after a natural disaster

Monday, September 5th, 2016

breastfeedingBaton Rouge, LA recently experienced severe flooding in what has been called the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Every year nearly 850,000 people in the US are affected by a natural disaster. When a disaster strikes, power can go out, water supplies can become contaminated and food supplies may become limited. But continuing to breastfeed can give your baby protection against illnesses, which is especially important following a natural disaster.

How does breastfeeding help your baby?

  • Protects her from the contaminated water supply
  • Protects against illnesses such as diarrhea
  • Helps comfort and soothe
  • Reduces stress for both mom and baby
  • Your breast milk is ready when your baby needs it

Is my milk safe?

According to the experts at Mother To Baby, substances enter breast milk in very small amounts, so they are not likely to harm a breastfeeding baby. The benefits you are providing your baby through your breast milk usually outweigh risk from an exposure.

Some infections are common after a natural disaster, such as West Nile virus, hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus. Most of the time, mothers who have an infection can continue to breastfeed. However if you notice anything different about the way you are feeling, or you are concerned, reach out to your health care provider. If you need medication, be sure to ask your provider if your prescription is safe to take while breastfeeding.  For more information about breastfeeding after a natural disaster, please see Mother-to-Baby’s fact sheet.

Can I feed my baby formula?

If you need to feed your baby formula, use single serving ready-to-feed formula, if possible. Ready-to-feed formula does not need to be mixed with water so you won’t run the risk of contamination. It also does not need to be refrigerated, so you do not need to worry about electricity. Be sure to discard unused formula from an unfinished bottle after one hour of feeding. If you need to use powdered or concentrated formula, mix it with bottled water. If neither option is available, use boiled water. Just be sure you do not use water treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare your baby’s formula unless you do not have bottled water and cannot boil your water.

How to breastfeed after a disaster

Feed your baby when she is hungry or expressing feeding cues. Keep in mind, breastfeeding is not only for nutrition; your baby may also nurse for comfort. And it’s good for you too – nursing will allow the release of hormones which can help reduce your stress.

Preparing your child for a natural disaster

Friday, May 29th, 2015

storm clouds, hurricaneNatural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, or hurricanes, can affect children differently than they do adults. Disasters cause an extreme amount of stress for anyone but children have unique needs. According to the CDC:

Children’s bodies are smaller and more vulnerable than an adult’s.
• Children are more likely to get sick or severely injured in a disaster.
• They breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults do and therefore will breathe in more toxins or debris.
• They have thinner skin that is more easily hurt.
• Since children have less fluid in their bodies, fluid loss (such as dehydration or blood loss) will have a more significant effect on their health.
• They are more likely to lose body heat.

In an emergency, children need help from adults.
• Children may not know how to react, so older children may look to adults for cues. Younger children may scream or cry.
• Some children may not be able to explain where or how they are hurt.
• Children cannot make medical decisions for themselves and will need an adult to get medical treatment.

Disasters can be more stressful for children.
• Children may feel out of control.
• They do not understand the situation.
• They have less practice recovering from difficult experiences.

If you have young children, one of the most important things that you can do to keep your family safe in a disaster is to make a plan.  Planning for a disaster means knowing what to do in each possible situation.

Prepare: Before creating your disaster plan, it’s important to know what types of emergencies are likely in your area and the best way to respond. Different events may require different strategies. You can find more information about tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes on our website. If you are pregnant or have a young infant, these factsheets will help you understand your unique needs and prepare for an unexpected event.

Talk: Spend time with your family discussing natural events that may occur in your area. Use simple words that even very young children can understand.

Practice: Practice your family evacuation plan so that during an emergency you can leave quickly and safely. Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. For example, during an earthquake you would want to practice “drop, cover, and hold on” under a sturdy desk or table. During a tornado, you would want to seek shelter in a lower level room without windows.

Respond: Stay as calm as you can, since your reaction is likely to influence how your child responds. If you need to go to a shelter, bring any medications you or your children need. Also, bring small toys that will make them feel at home.

Recover: If appropriate, let children help in clean-up and recovery efforts. This can help to increase their sense of control. Try to get back into normal routines as soon as you can.

Ready.gov has a lot of information that can help you make an emergency preparedness plan. And if you have a baby or child with special needs, make sure you read our post Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

stormIt is important to know what to do to protect yourself and your family in case of an emergency.  It is essential that you know what to do if you have a baby or child with special needs.

 

Where can you find information?

Family Voices is an organization dedicated to helping families care for their special needs children. They offer tips on how to keep your special needs kids safe in an emergency or disaster. They say:

“If your son or daughter has special health care needs, your emergency plan will probably be more complicated, involve more people, and may require equipment. This will be the case if your child or youth:

• Depends on electricity — to breathe, be fed, stay comfortable;
• Cannot be moved easily because of his medical condition or attachment to equipment;
• Uses a wheelchair, walker, or other device to move;
• Cannot survive extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold;
• Becomes afraid or agitated when sudden changes happen;
• Cannot get out of an emergency by herself for physical or emotional reasons.”

They recommend you download the interactive emergency form available on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website. This is a terrific resource which can be updated as your child grows and changes. You can see all of Family Voices ideas and resources on their webpage. They also have “Family-to-Family Health Information Centers” (F2F HICs) in every state to “provide assistance and support in emergency preparation.”  Click here to learn more about the F2F HICs, or to find one in your state.

Our website has lots of good info on how to prepare for a natural disaster. In addition, Ready.gov has info for families with individuals who have special needs. They have an easy to follow preparation list. You will also find all sorts of tips, such as how your phone can alert you of an impending emergency.

How can your kids help?

You can get your kids involved in creating a plan, too. It helps them to feel involved and to better remember what to do when the time comes, because they helped to create the plan. Ready.gov has a kid-friendly webpage with activities to get them engaged in preparing for an emergency, which includes an activity book for kids.

They also have a printable brochure with tips on how to prepare for a disaster for people with disabilities that covers how to help individuals with functional or special access needs create a support network.

Bottom line

Don’t wait to prepare for an emergency or a disaster until it is upon you. With a little bit of foresight, you can have a plan in place and have peace of mind.  And, if or when the time comes, your special needs child will be well taken care of.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child.

This post was updated Sept 2015.

 

Feeding a newborn after a disaster

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

newbornIn emergency situations, babies have an increased need for the disease-fighting factors and the comfort provided by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is especially recommended during a disaster because it is naturally clean. Refrigeration, bottles, or water for preparing formula are not necessary.

Breast milk is the best food for a baby during the first year of life. In emergencies, it’s usually best for the baby if the mother can continue to breastfeed. If pre-prepared formula is unavailable or water supplies are unsafe, breastfeeding is especially wise. Breast milk can be especially good for premature babies.

While stress may affect milk supply, breastfeeding itself can help to reduce stress. When you breastfeed, your body creates hormones that are calming. Do your best to make breastfeeding time as relaxed as you can under the circumstances.

If breastfeeding has been interrupted, the La Leche League provides information to help you start again. The International Lactation Consultant Association also provides help with breastfeeding. Call (919) 787-5181.

Some women may find it impossible to continue to breastfeed. If this occurs, wean the baby as slowly as possible. This is important for both your health and the baby’s. Hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible to reduce your baby’s stress. In a disaster, pre-prepared formula is recommended because of concerns about water safety.

The La Leche League provides information about breastfeeding for women affected by disasters.

If you are staying in a shelter and need help with breastfeeding, ask the medical staff for assistance.

If breastfeeding is not possible, have a supply of single-serving, ready-to-feed formula. Ready-to-feed formula does not need mixing, and water should not be added to it. When using ready-to-feed formula, pour the needed amount into a bottle, and throw away the formula that the baby does not drink if you cannot refrigerate it. After it is opened, the formula must be refrigerated.

Regarding water for drinking, cooking and bathing, listen to and follow public announcements. Local authorities will tell you if tap water is safe to drink or to use for cooking or bathing. If the water is not safe to use, follow local instructions to use bottled water or to boil or disinfect tap water for cooking, cleaning or bathing.

If tap water is not safe, boiling is the preferred way to kill harmful bacteria and parasites. To kill most organisms, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute.

If you can’t boil unsafe tap water, you can treat it with chlorine tablets or iodine tablets. Follow the directions that come with the tablets. Keep treated water out of reach of children and toddlers.

If you have a baby and are not breastfeeding, ready-to-feed formula is recommended because of concerns about water safety. Do not use water treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare powdered formulas.

Moms should do their best to drink at least six to eight glasses (eight-ounce servings) of water, juice or milk every day.

For more information about caring for a newborn after a disaster, read this article.

Are you ready for Frankenstorm?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

hurricane3Halloween is coming and so, apparently, is a storm to match The Perfect Storm. Radio and TV weather reports have hurricane Sandy set to impact millions of lives all along the east coast of the U.S. Are you ready? Are you taking precautions should your basement flood or you lose power for several days?

The needs of a pregnant woman during a disaster are unique. Prepare as much as you can before a disaster strikes. This will help you to stay healthy and safe. Follow these tips:
– Make sure to let your health care provider’s office (doctor, midwife or nurse-practitioner) know where you will be.
– Make a list of all prescription medications and prenatal vitamins that you are taking.
– Get a copy of your prenatal records from your health care provider.
– If you have a case manager or participate in a program such as Healthy Start or Nurse-Family Partnership, let your case manager know where you are going. Give him or her a phone number to use to contact you.
– If you have a high-risk pregnancy or you are close to delivery, check with your health care provider to determine the safest option for you.

You still need to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by your state, but here is a link to some special things to consider during and after a disaster.

If you have recently had a baby or you are caring for a newborn, this article is designed to help you prepare for a disaster. If you are caring for an infant and have questions about the health effects of a potential disaster, please talk with a health care professional.

The media may be a bit dramatic at times, but they are right about one thing. Now is the time to make preparations and have a plan in place for your family to follow in case you ever need it.

Hurricane hype serves a purpose

Monday, August 27th, 2012

hurricaneWhenever I turned on the TV over the weekend, I saw a lot of coverage of tropical storm Isaac and its threat to Florida and the Republican National Convention and then New Orleans. Memories of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina still are fresh in everyone’s mind and the press isn’t letting us forget. Drama and politics aside, however, we need to remember that we are in hurricane season. For all of you who live along the coasts that may be affected by a hurricane, it is important to remember safety preparation tips.

The needs of a pregnant woman during a disaster are unique. Prepare as much as you can before a disaster strikes. This will help you to stay healthy and safe. Follow these tips:
– Make sure to let your health care provider’s office (doctor, midwife or nurse-practitioner) know where you will be.
– Make a list of all prescription medications and prenatal vitamins that you are taking.
– Get a copy of your prenatal records from your health care provider.
– If you have a case manager or participate in a program such as Healthy Start or Nurse-Family Partnership, let your case manager know where you are going. Give him or her a phone number to use to contact you.
– If you have a high-risk pregnancy or you are close to delivery, check with your health care provider to determine the safest option for you.

You still need to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by your state, but here is a link to some special things to consider during and after a disaster.

If you have recently had a baby or you are caring for a newborn, this article is designed to help you prepare for a disaster. If you are caring for an infant and have questions about the health effects of a potential disaster, please talk with a health care professional.

The media may be a bit dramatic at times, but they are right about one thing. Now is the time to make preparations and have a plan in place for your family to follow in case you ever need it.

Mold exposure and asthma

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

asthmaFor those of us impacted by flooding from wicked weather, it is important to know that a newly published study revealed that exposure to household mold in infancy greatly increases a child’s risk of developing asthma.

Researchers with the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study analyzed seven years of data collected from 176 children who were followed from infancy. These children were considered at high risk of developing asthma because of a family medical history of asthma.

By age seven, 18% of the children in the study developed asthma. Those who lived in homes with mold during infancy were three times more likely to develop asthma by age 7 than those who were not exposed to mold when they were infants.

“Early life exposure to mold seems to play a critical role in childhood asthma development,” lead author Tiina Reponen, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, said in a university news release. “Genetic factors are also important to consider in asthma risk, since infants whose parents have an allergy or asthma are at the greatest risk of developing asthma.”

“This study should motivate expectant parents—especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma—to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children,” added Reponen.

If you have suffered water damage, take care to make sure you have no mold growing in your home. This link will take you to articles from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protectioin Agency (EPA) on cleaning up mold.

Hurricane preparedness

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

hurricaneHurricane season is upon us and the first of the season, Hurricane Irene, is headed north toward the U.S. Irene has left Puerto Rico and is due to hit Florida either late Thursday or early Friday morning.

For all of you who live along the coasts that may be affected by a hurricane, it is important to remember safety preparation tips. The needs of a pregnant woman during a disaster are unique. You still need to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by your state, but here is a link to some special things to consider.

If you have recently had a baby or you are caring for a newborn, this article is designed to help you prepare for a disaster. If you are caring for an infant and have questions about the health effects of the disaster, please talk with a health care professional.

Now is the time to make preparations and have a plan in place for your family to follow in case you ever need it.

Hurricane baby checklist

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

If the authorities are evacuating your city, please get your bags ready.  Don’t wait.  This storm is going to be a big one.  I have pulled together a list of things for you to take with you if you have a baby.  There is also more detailed information on preparing for a disaster if you are caring for an infant on our site. 

I know you are watching the news as anxiously as I am, probably even more so.

If you have any questions or concerns, leave me a comment.  I’ll be watching for it.

Packing Checklist

Several pacifiers to help soothe your baby.

  • Diapers (you will need about 70 a week for an infant).
  • A baby blanket.
  • A baby carrier because there may not be a crib or bassinet for your baby once you arrive at your destination.
  • Extra clothes for your baby because these may be hard to find.
  • It can be loud in shelters and hospitals. Bring anything that could help soothe you and your baby.
  • Food for your baby.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Rectal thermometer and lubricant.
  • Non-aspirin liquid pain reliever
  • Car seat

Take care.  Be safe.