Be prepared for Hurricane SeasonBy Veita Bland, M.D. / June 10, 2022
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Yes, believe it or not it is Hurricane season. June 1 through November 30 of each year bears this designation. The weather forecasters are expecting a busy and potentially difficult season.
So that means it is time to prepare. As the forecasters say, you can do nothing to prevent a tropical storm or hurricane, but you can take steps now to protect yourself and your family.
Certainly, as we look at this, there are going to be complications due to COVID-19. The pandemic will make this a more difficult season. One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to make sure your immunization status is up to date. This is particularly so if you are forced to shelter in public facilities with others whose immunization status maybe unknown. Make sure you have had all of your primary vaccines and boosters. Remember a vaccine does not work immediately. The body needs time to respond, so make an appointment and get those immunizations now. You do not need to become ill with COVID-19 when the resources of the medical system are already stretched during a disaster.
Take the time to keep an eye on the COVID-19 community infection level in your area. This is an assessment that is rendered by the health authorities, local hospital administrator and others looking at the hospital bed situation and new COVID-19 cases. The level may be low, medium, or high. Each designation brings recommendations for your behavior with the threat of COVID-19.
Pay special attention to the designated shelters in your area. This is especially so if you have pets. We pet parents need to be able to care for our charges properly during a disaster.
If the inevitable occurs and you have to evacuate, be prepared. You need to have a “go kit” prepared and waiting. This would include things you personally would need to have. It should include medications for 3-7 days, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, plenty of clean, good quality masks for anyone two years of age and older, bar or liquid soap and plenty of disinfectant wipes. Have cash available especially if electricity is out because the usage of debit and credit cards may be spotty.
In this day and age, you need to be media savvy and have ways to receive the latest crucial information on what is happening, especially in your area. Cell phone alerts will come automatically. Consider a NOAA radio or the app to get the latest weather news. Take a look at @NWS (National Weather Service) to receive Twitter alerts. Now would be a good time to invest in a good charger for your phone to be prepared if you are sheltering without electricity.
Do prepare a “go kit” for your pets. There may be medications and treats they need to have to remain safe with you.
As always, you need to remember your friends and relatives, especially those who are older or have health problems. Make sure they are cared for and have a plan. Make sure they have their “go kit” prepared with three to seven days of their medications in it.
If you have to evacuate and end up sheltering with friends and family, precautions need to be taken. Consider having rapid COVID-19 tests on hand before allowing people to enter that space so you have an idea of their status and can take precautions to isolate the sick.
Ventilation is a priority. If you have electricity, use fans with portable HEPA filters to clean the air and run that HAVC fan continuously. If possible, open the windows after the storm passes.
After the storm has passed, stay abreast of the community COVID-19 level. Things may have changed with the events of the storm. If you have been injured, have a FIRST-AID kit available to keep all wounds clean.
Understand that there will be stress with the storms, on top of the stress of life, on top of the stress of COVID-19. Stay in touch with family and friends that can help. Be not ashamed, seek help through your community and healthcare providers. If there is a preexisting history of mental health illness be aware that mental health may deteriorate with all this stress. Have a plan and keep in touch with your providers. Help may only be a phone call away.
The bottom line is that the current weather predictions are calling for a vigorous season of storms. Be prepared to weather these storms in a healthful manner.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.