Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Disaster Preparedness for the Chemically Sensitive

Multiple chemical sensitivity has been one of my interests for quite some time. Lately I've been sharing information about disaster preparedness and was therefore very pleased that Susie Collins at the Canary Report kindly shared the link to these disaster preparedness tips for people with chemical sensitivities.

The fact sheet below comes from PrepareNow.Org, a (now seemly defunct, as of 10/4/2012) San Francisco Bay area collaborative whose mission was to support individuals with all manner of special needs and vulnerable populations in preparation of disaster. (The PrepareNow.Org no longer exists--but the fact sheet below comes from their former website.)  The chemically sensitive are among those vulnerable people who cannot comfortably or safely use the standard resources offered in disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery. Others included in this category are persons with hearing and vision impairment, non-English-speakers or recent immigrants reluctant to ask for help, and the frail elderly.

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"Developed and Distributed By the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco,
70 10th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, in cooperation with June Kailes, through a grant from the American Red Cross, Northern California Disaster Preparedness Network."

This fact sheet is designed to provide a checklist for activities for People with Environmental Illness/Multiple Chemical Sensitivities to improve your emergency preparedness in an earthquake. It is designed to be used in conjunction with Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco's general Earthquake Tips for People with Disabilities, Tips for Collecting Emergency Documents, and Tips for Creating an Emergency Health Information Card. Without all four tip sheets, you do not have all the information you need to be prepared.

Preparation may seem like a lot of work. It is. Preparing does take time and effort. So do a little at a time, as your energy and budget permit. The important thing is to start preparing. The more you do, the more confident you will be that you can protect yourself, your family, and your belongings.

Date Completed/Activities:
__________ Emergency Supplies based on your worst days.
__________ "Carry With You" Important Supplies to keep with you at all times (medications, first aid kit, evacuation kit).__________ Special additions to your Emergency Supplies.
__________
In case of Evacuation, know where the nearest safe places are from your home.
Emergency Supplies:
Collect emergency supplies based on your worst days. After a major quake an excess of smoke, excessive dust, molds, gas leaks, diesel from idling rescue vehicles, flashing lights, radio waves, electro magnetic fields (from generators, emergency lights, cellular phones and walkie talkies) and airborne toxins may trigger stronger reactions than you normally experience.

Carry With You" Emergency Supplies:
Emergency Health Information Card should clearly explain your sensitivities and reactions, most helpful treatments, and treatments which are harmful, Be specific, as environmental illness is not commonly understood. Remember that some reactions (disorientation, aphasia, panic) may be diagnosed and treated as something other than chemical sensitivity and you may not be able to describe your needs verbally.
  • Medications including [if prescribed]: inhalers, epinephrine shots, anticonvulsant.
  • Prescriptions and Treatment Authorization Request (T.A.R.'s) from your doctor for unusual, orphan or hard-to-find medications.
  • Supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies.
  • First Aid Kit:
    Cotton bandages, gauze, and paper tape.
    Hydrogen peroxide, zephiran chloride or your tolerated disinfectant.
  • Emergency Supplies:
    Charcoal mask and/or respirator.
    Well aired-out (outgassed) plastic or steel tubing and ceramic mask or outgassed plastic mask for oxygen.
    Rolls of aluminum foil for such things as covering chairs, sleeping area, food, etc.
    Baking soda stored in a waterproof container (for washing).
    Food that requires no cooking.
    Water, if storage in glass containers is necessary, consider using one quart bottles, stored inside layers of thick socks to protect the glass and to enable carrying. Note: glass bottles will break if the water freezes and expands.
    Portable charcoal water filter.
    Before purchasing a fire extinguisher, check your sensitivity to the contents.
  • Evacuation Plan:
    Know where the nearest safe places are, especially open air places, such as a beach, up wind from traffic, refineries and fires.
    Avoid hermetically sealed shelters.
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Suggested by a reader, another helpful site from the National Institues of Health, Special Populations:Emergency and Disaster Preparedness is a source of advice during times of disaster which provides specific advice for those who are elderly, disabled, suffer from vision or hearing loss, or fall under many other difficult circumstances.

Anyone can learn more about being disaster and storm-ready by perusing the National Weather Service's (NOAA) page full of helpful resources.  Individuals wanting or needing to become proficient in disaster managment planning may be interested in educational opportunities HAZMAT educational opportunities that are listed on the NOAA site.

The PERI (Public Entity Risk Institute) website http://offers an extremely comprehensive resource library that will be of interest to individuals interested in disaster preparedness.

1 comment:

Susie Collins said...

Thanks for the shout out! And thank you for sharing this emergency info with all your readers. The more awareness about the needs of chemically sensitive people the better. Aloha!

PS Did you know I did a post on your article on MCS and hospital settings? I later heard from Rodger Norris and am now in email contact with him. He shared photos of his family with me, so sweet. He's hanging in there. Here's the link to the post:

http://www.thecanaryreport.org/2008/12/20/multiple-chemical-sensitivity-in-a-hospital-setting/

Thanks again for all your good work! Aloha.