Guest Post by Jori Hamilton
Natural disasters come in many forms, including wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. During such events, being able to quickly evacuate your family can be key to survival. Post-disaster problems, like lack of food and lack of access to healthcare, can present hurdles in any situation, but they can feel insurmountable when you’re a new or expecting parent.
There are four stages of disaster management, and the preparedness stage involves making plans and having all of the supplies you’ll need on hand. This can take some time, so it’s best to prepare for a disaster well in advance. When preparing, you’ll need to make a plan for your family, including your young children and those yet to be born. With a few tweaks and additions to your traditional disaster preparedness plan, you can avoid potential issues that come with being pregnant or giving birth during an emergency.
Have a Contingency Plan for Pregnancy Symptoms
Pregnancy can bring about many uncomfortable symptoms such as migraines, morning sickness, and constipation. Some women also experience significant food sensitivities and may need to alter their diets when pregnant. Many of these symptoms are manageable with medication, such as by using Aimovig to treat and manage episodic and chronic migraines.
While your pregnancy symptoms may be manageable with medication, you may not be able to access prescription refills during a disaster. Try to keep an extra supply of medication on hand for this situation. You can also talk with your doctor ahead of time about alternative treatments in case you run out of your medication.
Additionally, talk with your doctor about what to do in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t access medical help during your pregnancy. Familiarize yourself with the natural progression of a pregnancy, and understand what a healthy pregnancy looks like. You should ask your doctor about warning signs that may indicate you need medical attention before, during, and after giving birth.
Create an Appropriate Emergency Survival Kit
Take some time to create an emergency survival kit for a disaster. This kit should be stocked with the supplies your family might need if you can’t get to a well-stocked store. Your kit should include essentials like:
- Food and water to last at least a week
- A radio and batteries
- A first-aid kit
- Spare clothes
- A knife
- A lighter
- A signaling kit with flares, a whistle, and a flag
- Important documents including emergency contact numbers, birth certificates, and passports
Depending on where you live and the type of disaster you’re facing, you may choose to add in some additional specialty items, like supplies for cold weather.
You’ll also need to incorporate items for your baby such as bottles and formula, diapers, blankets, and clothes. Be sure that you’re equipped with an infant car seat and that you have followed proper safety protocols for your baby’s new car seat. Just like you baby proofed your house, you also have to baby proof your car, and there are a number of ways to get your vehicle ready for baby, especially if it’s your bug-out vehicle.
Don’t forget a way for your baby to sleep if you have to evacuate, such as a portable crib. You may never need to use this emergency kit, but having it prepared means that you’ll have access to the essential items you need to survive.
Understand Your Health Risks
When planning for a disaster, it’s important to understand how your health risks might affect your evacuation plans or daily life after a disaster occurs. Accessing healthcare can be a challenge, so you’ll need to be proactive in identifying ways to manage the health of yourself and your family.
If you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your medical records with you in case a disaster or emergency occurs and you can’t see your current physician. This is particularly important if you’ve been tested for STDs or know that you have a high risk pregnancy. Having physical copies of your medical records with you can streamline emergency medical care during a disaster.
Create a Family Communication Plan
Communication, especially by cell phone, can fail during an emergency, so create a communication plan with your family ahead of time. Discuss a meeting place in your neighborhood or out of town where you and your family can reconvene if you’re separated.
You should also create a family contact sheet featuring names, phone numbers, and addresses of contacts. Include contacts who live outside of town and who can help to convey information between your family members if you’re unable to communicate with each other locally.
Talk to your children about this disaster plan and how they can get in contact with you if a disaster occurs while they’re at school. Make sure that they have copies of the family contact sheet in their backpacks.
Hopefully, you never have to go through a disaster while expecting or with young children, but in case you do, being prepared can ensure that your whole family stays safe.