Hurricanes: Weathering the Storm if You Have Asthma

 

We are currently in the peak of hurricane season, which goes from June 1 to Nov. 31. While preparing for a possible storm, people with asthma need to take extra precautions to reduce chances of an asthma episode or attack.

Be Ready to Evacuate or Be Without Power

Hurricanes, even tropical storms, could mean you have to evacuate depending on where you live. And if you shelter in place, there's a good chance you could be without power for days if the storm comes your way.

In the days following a hurricane, pharmacies may be low in supply or closed. Along with your hurricane supplies, make sure you have the following for every family member with asthma:

  • Enough medicines to last several days
  • Pharmacy and doctor contact information
  • Copies of your Asthma Action Plans
  • Portable, battery-powered nebulizer, if you use one
  • Insurance cards

Keep these items handy so you can grab them quickly if you don't get much notice to evacuate. During the storm, consider keeping them in a cooler where they can be protected from heat and water.

Prepare to Protect Yourself for Cleanup Before the Storm

Mold, pollen, dust and building materials can be a concern after the hurricane passes. Pack gloves and masks rated N95 or higher with your medicines so you can clean up as soon as possible. This is especially important if your home has flooded or has water damage.

Better yet, let a professional do the cleanup, if you can. Look for a reputable professional restoration company. Or ask your homeowner's insurance company to give you the name of one they recommend.

hurricane-debris

Be Aware of Thunderstorm Asthma

Thunderstorm conditions can worsen asthma triggers for people with allergic asthma. During a storm, rain hits pollen grains, causing it to break up into smaller pieces. Then the wind picks them up and spreads them around. It can then be inhaled into the lungs.

The force of the wind, rain and lightning before and during a hurricane can have the same effect. Follow your asthma action plan if you are feeling symptoms.

Watch for Triggers After the Storm Passes

Piles of debris and downed trees can harbor mold, pollen and toxic chemicals that can cause air pollution in your area. Debris pickup may take a while depending on access to your area and availability of resources. Wear a mask and gloves if you clean up any of the debris, and change your clothes as soon as you go indoors.

Don't burn the debris because the smoke and toxic materials can irritate your airways. If neighbors burn their debris, protect yourself from the smoke as much as possible. 

Keep these tips in mind and prepare now before the next hurricane or tropical storm is headed to your area. Join our community to follow our blog. Our community provides an opportunity to connect with other patients who manage these conditions for peer support.

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Thanks, AAFA! Love the blog post! Another thing I learned was to keep in mind supply chain shortages ... even if we're not in the direct path of the storm, we may be hit with gas or food or medication shortages, and our cellular phone service may take a hit.

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