Posts Tagged ‘natural disaster’

Planning for a disaster

Monday, May 5th, 2014

storm clouds, hurricaneA disaster is an event that brings an extreme amount of stress into your life. The needs of pregnant women and families with infants during a disaster are unique. You still need to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by your state, but there may be some special things to consider if you are pregnant or have an infant.

The March of Dimes and the American Public Health Association (APHA) have teamed up to bring you a series of six fact sheets to help pregnant women and families with infants be prepared in case of an emergency. These fact sheets provide basic, easy-to-read information on what you need to know before, during and after a disaster or other emergency. They include:

You can also learn more about being prepared for a disaster if you are pregnant or if you have a baby on our website.

Being pregnant or caring for a baby can make a disaster even more stressful but getting prepared ahead of time can make things a little easier for you and your family.

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.

Since June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council, and this week’s theme is emergency preparation, it is appropriate that I talk about how to prepare for an emergency when you have a 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.

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.com.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

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.

Staying safe in a disaster

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Our thoughts and concerns today are with all those facing the ravages of the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami in the Pacific. We hope you and your family are safe. In this very difficult time, it is important to focus on the unique needs of pregnant women and women with newborns. Having an action plan can help.

You need to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by your state, but here are some special things to consider. If you need to evacuate your area because of a disaster emergency:
• Bring any medications you are currently taking, including your prenatal vitamins and your prescriptions.
• Keep a copy of your prenatal medical records with you and contact information for your health care provider in case you need to visit another provider.
• If you are driving, stop to get out and walk every 1 to 2 hours. Keep blankets in your car.
• Wear comfortable shoes – you may be on your feet a lot.
• Pack some snacks and bottled water.
• Pack pacifiers, diapers, blankets, extra clothes for your baby 
Remember that maternity clothes may not be available if you evacuate. Pack extra clothes for yourself, including undergarments.

Once you’ve made it through a disaster emergency and are safe, you’ll want to take steps to ensure you stay healthy. For example, if your health care provider’s office is closed or if you had to evacuate, call a local hospital or health department to get information about prenatal care and local hospitals.

Breastmilk 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. Breastmilk can be especially good for premature babies.

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.

This link will take you to information about: finding ways to eat healthy, finding safe water for drinking, cooking and bathing; watching for signs of preterm labor if you are pregnant; finding ways to get some physical relief when you can; ways of coping with stress, and more.

Remember, flood water may contain harmful substances. For instance, the water may contain bacteria that could cause serious disease. It’s best if children and pregnant women avoid touching or walking in flood water.

If you are pregnant, be especially careful not to swallow any flood water. Try to keep it away from your mouth. If you feel sick in any way, talk to a doctor or nurse right away. Remember to tell them that you are pregnant.

Stay safe and be well.