We encourage all of our clinicians to be prepared, whether it’s making sure the emergency bag is fully stocked and with the patient at all times, adhering to best practice guidelines, practicing standard precautions like thorough hand washing, or preparing to work during a severe weather alert. One of the ways we accomplish this level of preparedness is through our educational programs.
Not only is September National Preparedness Month, but it’s also the month we host our annual skills competency training for our nurses. Every year during Annuals, we see an improvement in the skills and clinical judgment of our clinicians—and that directly benefits our patients. Read more about Annuals.
In honor of National Preparedness Month, we developed tips to address severe weather emergency situations most frequently encountered by our ventilator-dependent patients and their family members. These tips should be used in the home to prepare for a tornado, hurricane, fire, flood, earthquake, or snowstorm.
Top 10 Severe Weather Tips:
- Remain calm. Do not panic. Staying clam will help you act and think through each of the critical steps below.
- Review Your Emergency Plan. Independence Plus creates an emergency plan for every patient; however, it’s vital that our patients, families, and clinicians review existing emergency plans frequently to confirm understanding and provide updates as needed. Every step is critical during an emergency situation!
- Know Your Numbers. Display emergency contacts and important numbers in a visible place, like your refrigerator door. Important numbers may include the following: nursing agency, medical equipment company, physician(s), electric service provider, telephone service provider, and natural gas service provider.
- Monitor Weather Reports. We suggest viewing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website for weather conditions at http://nws.noaa.gov or (815) 834-1435 or tune into WBBM radio at 720 AM.
- Know the Road Conditions. Stay updated by checking the Illinois Department of Transportation website at www.dot.il.gov or calling (217) 782-7820.
- Identify a Safe Place. Identify two safe places—inside and outside of the home. The safe place inside the home should be one without windows, if possible, in case of a tornado or severe weather. The safe place outside the home should be easily accessible and far enough away to ensure safety in case of a fire or flood.
- Practice Safe Storage. Store medical supplies and equipment in a dry, safe, and secure place. For example, basements are not appropriate storage locations because they tend to flood.
- Locate Emergency Supplies. Know where your emergency supplies (medical and non-medical) are stored for quick and easy access. Non-medical emergency supplies may include spare fuses, flashlights, extra batteries, back-up generators, circuit box, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, blankets, water, and a radio. For more information about emergency medical equipment for tracheostomy and ventilator-dependent patients at home, click here.
- Maintain Back-up Systems for Life-Saving Equipment. Most important, any critical or life-saving equipment in the home should have a back-up system. This may be a portable suction machine or stored oxygen tanks to backup AC powered oxygen concentrators. The most crucial is back-up for the ventilator. Ventilators have an internal battery, but it’s important to maintain a portable battery and gel cell battery for more extensive portability. Also, remember to note the expected battery life in the event of prolonged loss of electricity.
- Test Emergency Supplies. Test emergency supplies frequently to ensure they are fully charged and working. Remember: Power outages are the most likely hurdle in severe weather emergencies!
If you have an emergency and are an Independence Plus patient or family member, please notify us by calling (708) 366-4500. For Home Nursing (skilled hourly services) select option 2, then 1; for Home Health visits (intermittent visits) select option 2, then 2; and Respiratory Home Medical Equipment select option 3 (or call HME directly at (630) 463-4400).
For more information on National Preparedness Month, go to Ready.gov.