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Monday, February 1, 2010

Asthmatics: be prepared for a Haiti-like disaster

My publisher called me up in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquakes wondering what might an asthmatic like you and me might do to prepare for a worse case scenario like this. I think I start this out that I was wondering, but, with all due respect, I owe her credit for the idea that generated this post.

Basically, though, preparing for a natural disaster is pretty much the same as preparing for a worse case asthma scenerio where you're away from home and having an asthma attack.

10 Tips to Help Asthmatics Prepare For a Natural Disaster
by Rick Frea Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In light of what's been going on in Haiti, I was wondering what might happen if a natural disaster struck right here in Michigan, or if one struck near your home. What would you do? How would you breathe? Or, better yet, how should you prepare?

Hopefully you should never find out. However, a
gallant asthmatic is always prepared for the worst. Therefore, the following 10 tips were created to help you prepare for such a worst case scenario, or any asthma emergency:

1. Have a bronchodilator rescue inhaler (like
Albuterol) near you at all times. If you're sleeping, have one next to the bed easy to grab. If you're traveling, have one within your reach, or in your pocket (for traveling with asthma tips click here).

2. Store a
rescue inhaler, or nebulizer with supplies and meds, at a secondary location, such as your parents', in-laws', girlfriends' home. Another location you should have one stored is at your work, perhaps in a locker and in your car, perhaps the glove compartment. If you can't get to your home, you can plan to go to one of these locations.

3. Have an Asthma Emergency Box at your home. This should also be easily accessible in case of an emergency. In it, you should keep a small supply of all your asthma meds. In my emergency box I keep one full
Albuterol inhaler, one sample size Advair, half a bottle of Singulair, and a bottle of Claritin in case the allergies strike.

4. If you require controller meds to manage your asthma -- like
Advair, Symbicort, Singulair or theophylline, you should also store these meds at your emergency locations as well and your asthma emergency box too. You can get sample packs of most asthma meds from your doctor or pharmacist that work great for this purpose. You should store at least a weeks worth of pills.

5. If you have
hardluck asthma, or if you've been in the emergency room for your asthma within the past year, you may want to talk with your doctor about having steroids or, if necessary, an epi pen. This way you'll be able to treat your asthma if you don't have access to your home or a hospital. These emergency meds should be stored at one of your emergency locations and in your asthma emergency box.

6. Make sure to replace the above medications at least once a year so they don't become expired.
7. In your wallet, or purse, you should always keep a note that says you have asthma, and what medicines you take. You should also list any medicine or food allergies you might have.

8. Likewise, you should also have a note from your doctor (like
this one from when I was a kid) that lets medical professionals know what works best for you in case you are unable to speak for yourself. You should keep a copy in your car, at work, in your asthma emergency box, and in your wallet or purse.

9. In case there is a lot of dust or other pollutants in the air following a disaster (such as what occurred during the 9-11 disaster in New York), you should have access to an air-tight mask.

10. If you are a parent or guardian, or teacher, it is your job to make the above preparations for your child. I define a child as anyone 18 and under.

So there you have it. By following the above steps you should be prepared for any asthma emergency, whether you are in the confines of your own home, or away from your home for an extended period of time.

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