Hurricane preparedness week: Get ready now

By A.J. Plunkett

It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week in the United States. Dig out your hurricane preparedness plans and review them now with an eye on potentially handling two or more disasters at once. On top of the continuing national emergency related to the surge in COVID-19 patients, a major storms season is upon us. 

Hurricane season begins May 15 in the east Pacific Ocean and June 1 in the Atlantic and central Pacific areas. The NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) is highlighting preparedness May 3-9, and already noted some brief activity in the central Pacific. 

While hurricanes are best known for their size and ferocity of wind, the NHC offers the reminder that storm surge and tides, rainfall and flooding and tornadoes are also major problems — and hazards that hospitals are like to have to deal with as storms move onto land. 

Prepare now for the patient surge that might happen in a storm, on top of critical patients already being cared for because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

And remember that the initial storm may not be your greatest challenge if flooding occurs. 

HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (ASPR-TRACIE) offers a variety of tools for planning for and reviewing hurricane preparedness. That includes lessons learned at hospital systems during hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and more. 

The CDC also offers guidance for hurricane preparedness for healthcare professionals and facilities. 

For more on staying prepared for hurricanes and other emergencies, see future issues of Inside Accreditation and Quality.