Disasters and pandemics can happen at any time, so nurses need to be prepared and ready to act quickly. Here are some tips nurses can follow to be equipped when needed.
To best care for patients, a nurse must tend to those who matter most.
Learn as much as possible about the impending threat online and through appropriate government agencies.
Complete all personal preparedness activities before arriving at work.
Keep some cash on hand at home and in your possession.
Fill up the car with gas.
Buy water and nonperishable food.
Maintain a seven-day supply of medications.
Depending on the type of disaster, secure outdoor furniture and decor and board up windows at home.
Create an emergency preparedness kit with items such as food, water, tools and more. Visit www.Emergency.CDC.gov/Preparedness/Kit/Disasters for a full list of items to include.
Stock up on extra medical supplies, such as hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses and syringes, because neighbors may ask for assistance.
Develop a communication plan with family, when normal telephone lines may be compromised.
Make alternative childcare or elder care plans, if the usual resources are unavailable.
Arrange for pet care.
Arrive at work prepared to stay several days, bringing food, toiletries, medications, clothing, a flashlight and chargers for electronics.
Register in advance to serve on community disaster response teams.
How to be prepared at work
Obtain education about how to respond and maintain expertise in disaster preparedness based on current protocols and professional practice at your facility.
Encourage, support and participate in statewide and internal drills.
Become familiar with the organizations preparedness plan and your role. Nurses may be assigned to the preparedness team, the ride-out team or the recovery team.
Make sure personal protective equipment is available and in working condition.
Request additional hand-hygiene supplies, such as alcohol-based sanitizer and paper towels.
Make sure bottled water is available on the unit for drinking and toilet flushing.
Stock the pantry with snacks or meals that do not require refrigeration.
Keep flashlights and batteries for staff and patients.
Prioritize caring for injuries, casualties.
Focus on patient safety during a natural disaster.
Remember that each and every nurse is crucial to the organizational preparedness plan.
Involvement is constant and evolves as new threats are identified, new equipment is purchased and newly hired individuals join the team.
Contributors: Susan Parnell, PhD, MPH, RN, CIC, director of corporate occupational health at UT Health Services in Houston; Deirdre Krause, PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC, associate professor in the APRN Program at Nova University in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla; Margo Minnich, MSN, RN, with Creighton Universitys College of Nursing in Omaha, Neb.; Paulette Heitmeyer, MSN/ED, RN, chief nursing officer at Marina Del Rey Hospital in California; and Denise Bailey, EdD, MEd, MSN, RN, CSN, and Jeannine Uribe, PhD, RN, faculty members at La Salle University in Philadelphia.
For more on disaster preparedness, visit www.Nurse.com/Disaster-Prep.