Health Impacts of Hurricanes During The COVID-19 Pandemic – What You Need To Know

Palm tree at the hurricane, Blur leaf cause windy and heavy rain
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As we continue to battle with the unknown of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inevitable hurricane season is upon us. The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs through November 30. An above-average 2020 Hurricane season is predicted according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. Planning for hurricane season and other potential disasters can be stressful, and because the 2020 hurricane season comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be especially so. It is important to stay in the know and up to date on all factors concerning both health and safety.  Here are a few tips to remain alert and aware in the upcoming months:

  1. Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medical supplies.
  2. Take steps to protect your and others’ health when running essential errands and when filling prescriptions.
  3. Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including potential shelters for your pets.
  4. Include items such as soap, hand sanitizer, cloth face coverings in evacuation “go kits.”
  5. Follow social distancing recommendations when checking on neighbors and friends.

In spite of stay-at-home orders, it may become necessary for people to seek safety in evacuation shelters. Shared living areas and crowded conditions in shelters require modifications to standard shelter operations. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) developed recommendations to assist shelter staff to reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 among shelter staff, volunteers, shelter residents, and visitors.

Post-hurricane preparedness is also a key factor in surviving the upcoming hurricane season. Taking COVID-19 precautions in addition to following regular safety guidance about power outages, food, and water safety, and avoiding injuries is key to ensuring overall health and safety. The following are things to be aware of in case you are affected by a hurricane:

  1. Continue to use preventive actions like washing your hands, wearing a face-covering in public, and social distancing during clean up or when returning home.
  2. It may take longer than usual to restore power and water if they are out.
  3. If you are injured or ill, contact your medical provider. Keep wounds clean to prevent infection. Accessing medical care may be more difficult than usual.
  4. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover.
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