Wild fires. Floods. Tornados. Winter storms. Pandemic surges. There list of possible disasters can seem endless. It might seem unreasonable to say that you can prepare for the unexpected. When you are vulnerable because of a lung disease, planning is a matter of health and maybe survival. Jake Heflin, Fire Captain for the City of Long Beach Fire Department in California, said “Personal preparedness is the most important and essential thing to protecting and saving lives.” @JCHeflin (twitter)
Consider these five things in emergency preparedness when you have a fibrotic lung disease:
- Water, Shelter, Food – These are essential for everyone, regardless of health status. Make these the first items on your planning list. Consider your personal needs. Do you need extra protein? Do conditions like esophageal issues or GERD restrict your food options?
- Medication – do you have an adequate supply? Does any of your medication require refrigeration or storage at a particular temperature? If you need a prescription refilled, will you have access to your medical records?
- Oxygen – how much do you need to keep on hand? Of what type? Some widespread disasters may prohibit your durable medical equipment provider from delivering as usual. If roads are impassible or supply chains are disrupted, you may need to turn to alternative sources.
- Medical Equipment Needs – Which of your medical devices require electrical power? Can they run on battery? Where is a nearby recharging station?
- Mobility – What obstacles would you face if you have to evacuate your home? What is your backup plan in case you are unable to drive out? Where will you go? If you have little time, say less than 30 minutes, to evacuate, what are the bare essentials you would need to take with you?
The truth is that some disasters are more likely in certain times of year and in certain locations. With a little planning and learning from experts, you can at least have a plan for the uncertain emergency. One must think ahead and take action before the emergency arrives. Have you thought ahead to the things you would need related to your lung condition in various emergencies? In the January Warrior-to-Warrior discussion, we discuss disaster preparedness with Jake Heflin, who has been involved as a paramedic and firefighter in emergency services for over 31 years. Expect to hear him discuss these tips as they apply to people living with interstitial lung disease.