Saturday, January 28, 2023

Here are some tips for keeping your health safe when natural disasters occur.

You can protect your health by taking simple precautions before climatic emergencies.

The health of everyone is increasingly threatened by climate change. As emergency care practitioners in Australia and the United States, we and our international colleagues are already observing the effects of climate change on the patients we meet.

However, a greater number of us will experience climatic emergencies, such as flooding, fires, and severe weather. And when the time comes, we may all take proactive steps to safeguard our health. Here are some things to be aware of and take action on.

What impact is climate change having on health?
People are turning to emergency rooms as a result of a variety of climate-related health issues, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, air pollution-related asthma, infectious diseases linked to flooding, and shifting biomes that cause ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests to relocate. Hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and floods often make the news because of the physical and mental damage they cause.

Many people find themselves suddenly without access to their regular healthcare providers and pharmacies, sometimes for extended periods of time. Individuals with complicated medical conditions, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, members of marginalised groups, and residents of disadvantaged regions frequently bear the brunt of the costs of extreme weather.

For instance, a woman recently visited an emergency room in Adelaide, Australia, complaining of a headache, weariness, and nausea—all signs of heat exhaustion—on a day when the temperature reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit. She explained to the medical staff that she had just walked two hours in the heat to get food because she didn't have a car or transportation. The only way she had to get food for her family was to venture outside, despite the media's health cautions that day telling her to stay indoors where it was cool. Well-intentioned public health warnings do little to lower the risk of sickness during harsh weather for this woman and many others. Access to housing, transportation, and other socioeconomic variables that put people at risk of poor health outcomes must be addressed in order to achieve safe and equitable health outcomes.

Extreme weather is a factor in widespread problems with health and safety.
Extreme weather linked to climate change is increasingly resulting in sporadic access to medical care, which increases the risk of later sickness and death. Extreme weather can disrupt vital infrastructure, such as the electrical grid, making it impossible for people who depend on home medical equipment to use it. A dialysis centre or emergency department may close as a result, and care may be provided more slowly in institutions that remain open.

People who are displaced as a result of a fire or hurricane may find it difficult to access medical care or essential medications like insulin, dialysis, therapies for high blood pressure, and heart medications. Especially in people who already have heart failure, lung disease, or kidney disease, these things can make chronic conditions worse and even cause death.

How are you going to prepare to safeguard your health?
In order to maintain our health and the health of our communities in the face of mounting climate change risks, we must all do our share. These actions will be beneficial.

If you or someone you love has health problems:

  • Keep a printed list of your current medical conditions, prescriptions, dosages, and contact information for your healthcare professionals handy.
  • Try to take all of your prescriptions with you if you have to leave the house; even empty pill bottles will be helpful if your doctor needs to restart your medications.
  • Place your medication in a waterproof bag and keep it close at hand. This will be useful if you have to leave right away.
Consider what you would do if you had to rapidly leave your house. Decide on your fundamental emergency strategy right away:

  • When the time comes to evacuate, where will you go?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • Without electricity or phone service, how could you interact with others?
  • In the event that you misplace your phone or the battery dies, do you have written contact information for a few family members and friends?

Last but not least, it is important for us to all watch out for one another. Make sure your senior neighbours and any other individuals who might be socially isolated are safe in their homes and have access to the medical treatment they may require if the weather turns hot, cold, smoky, flaming, snowy, wet, or windy.

The climate is changing. It already has real and profound effects on our neighbourhoods and the health of people everywhere. Furthermore, we must be ready for the hazards to our health it will present both now and in the decades to come because the increased likelihood of climate-related extreme weather is here to stay for the near future. Healthcare professionals, communities, and individuals all have a role to play in maintaining our own and one another's safety and health.



No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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