The devastation wrought by the recent powerful tornadoes in the Oklahoma City area is a tragic reminder of the importance of being prepared for severe weather of all kinds.
Preparing for these massive storms is vital to every family's health and well-being.
I urge you to make a plan to stay safe and protect your health as storms develop so you are ready when minutes count.
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
The following are steps you can take to keep you and your family safe:
Discuss with your family what you will do if you need to evacuate. Where will you meet? What will you take with you? How will you check in so that you'll know who is okay and who isn't?
Talk to your friends and family about your emergency plans. Establish family and friends as your lifelines, and talk about how you could help each other and communicate during and after a hurricane.
Make a plan for your pet if you must evacuate.
Get backups for things you need every day.
Have a supply of clean drinking water on hand.
Have medication, a copy of your current prescription and medical records on hand. You can ask your doctor to print a copy for you, or save an electronic copy in the cloud or on an external hard drive or enter the information into a smart phone or tablet application.
If you use electricity to run medical equipment (like a nebulizer, oxygen concentrator, or ventilator) or to keep your medication refrigerated, invest in an independent power supply and a means to recharge batteries.
Make sure you know how to use a backup generator safely. Keep it outdoors and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Make sure to fully charge your cell phone or other mobile devices so you can communicate after a storm. Plan to text, email, or use social media to let everyone know you're okay so phone lines remain open for first responders.
If you know a storm is coming, follow the instructions of your local emergency officials. If they suggest evacuating, get out of harm's way.
For more information on how to stay safe and protect health in an emergency, visit: www.phe.gov/hurricanes, emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness, www.foodsafety.gov/keep/emergency/index.html, www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085200.htm, www.Ready.gov and www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare.