Natural disasters often bring with them fires, floods, water contamination, and power outages. While these may do serious damage to property, they can also mean severe injury/illness or death to people who depend on lifesaving medical devices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides tips to help those device-dependent individuals get through a disaster.
- If you depend on life-saving medical devices, notify your local Public Health Authority to request evacuation prior to adverse weather events.
- Keep your device in as clean and secure location as possible: off the ground, away from animals or crowded areas.
- Always check your device for pests before you use it (e.g., syringes, mechanical devices).
- If your device appears to be damaged, or if you need a back-up device, contact your distributor or device manufacturer.
Prior to a Power Outage
- Notify your electric company and fire department to let them know you have a medical device that needs power.
- Call your distributor or device manufacturer to find out if your device can be used with batteries or a generator.
In the Event of a Power Outage
- Check all power cords and batteries to make sure they are not wet or damaged by water.
- Always use battery powered flashlights or lanterns rather than gas lights or torches when oxygen is in use (to minimize the risk of fire).
- Maintain your device only in a well lit area so you can assess your device's performance (e.g., refilling your insulin pump, checking your glucose meter).
- When the power is restored, check to make sure the settings on your medical device have not changed (medical devices may reset to a default mode when power is interrupted).
Flooding and Water Contamination
- Keep all medical devices and supplies clean and dry.
- Make sure you check for water before plugging in your device. Do not plug in a power cord if the cord or the device is wet.
- If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet, turn off the power at the main breaker.
- Use only bottled, boiled, or treated water when using, cleaning medical devices.
- When bottled boiling water is not an option, you can treat water with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets, or unscented household chlorine bleach.
Heat and Humidity
- Heat and humidity can have an effect on home diagnostic test kits (including blood glucose tests used by people with diabetes).
- Heat and humidity can damage blood glucose meters and test strips or render the test results inaccurate.
- If you use a blood glucose meter, check the meter and test strip package insert for information on use during unusual heat and humidity.
- Store and handle the meter and test strips according to the instructions.
- Perform quality-control checks to make sure that your home glucose testing is accurate and reliable.
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