Preparing for a Hurricane: Before and After

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Quick GuideFirst Aid: 8 Essential First Aid Items for Car or Purse

First Aid: 8 Essential First Aid Items for Car or Purse

Prevent drowning

When entering moving water, you are at risk for drowning regardless of your ability to swim. Individuals in vehicles are at the greatest risk of drowning, so it is important to comply with all hazard warnings on roadways and to avoid driving vehicles or heavy equipment into water of an unknown depth. NIOSH recommends you avoid working alone and wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket when working in or near flood waters.

Never walk into standing water after a storm, as you do not know how deep the water may be, or if there are active electrical lines hidden underneath.

Reduce the risk of thermal stress

While cleaning up after the hurricane, you are at risk for developing heat-related illness from working in hot environments where hurricanes form.

To reduce heat-related illness risks:

  • drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes
  • wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • take frequent rest breaks
  • work during the cooler hours of the day

What can I do to cope with mental stress after a hurricane?

The days and weeks after a hurricane may be emotionally difficult. In addition to an individual's physical health, the mental health of those affected by the hurricane need to be considered.  If you or someone you know has been affected by a hurricane feel any of these symptoms acutely (suddenly), seek counseling. Otherwise, some sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, hyperactivity, mild depression, or lethargy are normal, and may resolve with time.

State and local health departments will help you find local resources, including hospitals or health care practitioners that you or someone you know may need.

Individual responses to a threatening or potentially traumatic event vary from person to person. Emotional reactions may include feelings of fear, grief, and depression. Physical and behavioral responses might include nausea, dizziness, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, as well as withdrawal from daily activities. Responses to trauma can last for weeks to months before people start to feel normal again.

Seek medical care if you or someone you know becomes injured, feels sick, or experiences stress and anxiety.

There are many things that can be done to cope with traumatic events including:

  • Keep as many elements of a normal routine incorporated into the disaster plans as possible, including activities to allay children's fears.
  • Be aware that there may be a lack of resources to resolve daily emotional conflicts. Try to resolve any major emotional conflicts ahead of time if possible.
  • Turn to family, friends, and important social or religious contacts to set-up support networks to help deal with the potential stressors.
  • Let children know that it is okay to feel upset when something bad or scary happens.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings and thoughts, without making judgments.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/24/2016

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