Hurricane Season and National Preparedness Month
Friday, September 8, 2017
The following is a message from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
September is National Preparedness Month, an annual campaign to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies and disasters. Each year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) participates in National Preparedness Month by sharing important information and resources specific to preparing for the care of children during an emergency or disaster. The AAP will follow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) theme: "Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Each week of National Preparedness Month, the AAP will focus on a different set of resources to share.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. As you may be aware, Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005. See the AAP statement on Hurricane Harvey. The FEMA also released a Keeping Children Safe after Harvey fact sheet. The fact sheet is available in 7 additional languages (Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese). Hurricane hazards can include storm surge, heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and tornadoes. With Hurricane Irma forming in the Atlantic Ocean, hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery is at the forefront. Below you will find helpful tips and resources that may assist with hurricane preparedness, response, and recovery:
- Prepare your office practice ahead of time by creating a written preparedness plan. Start by reviewing the AAP Preparedness Checklist for Pediatric Practices. Email DisasterReady@aap.org for complimentary print copies.
- Personal and family preparedness is crucial. The AAP recommends that families develop a written disaster plan and that parents discuss these plans with their children. Pediatricians can start the conversation with families and advise them on which activities are of highest priority. The AAP HealthyChildren.org Web site offers resources that clinicians can share with families such as How to Prepare for Disasters, Family Disaster Supply List, and the Preparing Your Child for Disasters Infographic.
- The AAP Family Readiness Kit is a key resource to assist families to prepare for emergencies and disasters. This resource includes general guidelines for readiness that can be used in most situations.
- For families with children and youth who have special needs, disaster preparedness and planning for emergencies can be especially challenging. Additional steps need to be considered when preparingchildren and youth with special health care needs for disasters.
- Those affected by a hurricane or storm can apply for assistance, find a Disaster Recovery Center, search for Red Cross shelters, check on transportation issues, or monitor power outages.
- After a hurricane, there may be no clean drinking water, no sterile environment, and it may be impossible to ensure cleaning and sterilization of feeding utensils. The cleanest, safest food for an infant in a disaster or emergency is human milk. See the AAP Infant Feeding in Disasters and Emergencies fact sheet for additional information.
- Volunteer management is crucial after a disaster. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) has developed a Topic Collection that includes guidance and strategies for volunteer management.
- See the AAP Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Storms Web page for additional information.
For your information, the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs) are a source of medical information and advice on environmental conditions that influence reproductive and children’s health. Consider reviewing the PEHSU Clinician Recommendations Regarding Return of Children to Areas Impacted by Flooding and/or Hurricanes. This resource focuses on how pediatricians can understand what is appropriate after a disaster when kids were evacuated and are returning.