Monday, January 10, 2011 Surviving the Winter Storm
Dialysis Patient Guidance During Inclement Weather
Winter weather is in the forecast for Prince George’s County and the men and women, career and volunteer, of your Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department wants everyone to remember “Safety First.”
STAY PREPARED, STAY INFORMED, STAY SAFE
- Stay prepared by checking your emergency preparedness kit and having a supply of essential items (food, water, warming items, radios, batteries, flashlights, etc.) available.
- Stay informed by monitoring TV news, news radio, National Weather Service radios and the Internet. Important information may be broadcast that could affect you and your family. Ensure your cell phones and lap top computers are fully charged now – before the storm occurs.
- Stay safe by keeping fire safety and injury prevention a priority in your activities – “SAFETY FIRST.” It is important to remember that fire apparatus and ambulances will be slower to respond to your emergencies due to the weather and hazardous driving conditions. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms now to ensure they are working. In the event of an emergency, have an escape plan and call 911 immediately from a safe location.
- If warranted, stay home and off the roads. By staying off the roads, you will allow public works crews an opportunity to clear a path that can be used by first responders to handle emergencies.
- Some winter storms will cause power disruptions as snow will collect on power lines and tree branch’s that will then come in contact with power lines. Do not approach a downed power line – always consider downed power lines to be “live.” Restrict access to the downed lines and call 911.
- Speaking of calling 911 – please – only call 911 for emergencies.
- In the event of power outages – use flashlights and battery powered lanterns for illumination – do not use candles. Ensure you have a battery powered radio.
- Give space heaters space – keep space heaters at least 3-feet away from anything combustible like bedding, furniture, paper, etc.
- Use only seasoned wood products in your fireplace and use extreme caution when disposing of fireplace ashes as they can remain hot for days after the fire is out. Dispose of ashes in a metal container outside and away from the house.
- If you smoke a tobacco product – ensure it is properly extinguished in an approved container.
- Snow removal from sidewalks and driveways could be deadly especially for those that have an existing heart condition or anyone over the age of 50. Limit shoveling to only a few minutes at a time, shovel smaller amounts, and take frequent breaks.
- It is time to be a good neighbor – check on your senior citizen neighbors and ensure they have heat and food. Shovel their sidewalks and check on them frequently.
- Clear away snow from the fire hydrant on your street. If the fire hydrant is on your property; you are required to clear away the snow.
- If you must drive – reduce your speed, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you, turn on your headlights, and do not be distracted by cell phones or other communication equipment. Keep an eye out for pedestrians as they will venture out into the streets as sidewalks disappear. This information especially applies to 4-wheel drive SUV operators.
The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Fire Department stands ready and prepared to provide the best services available. We ask you to help us by preventing emergencies from ever occurring to avoid the need for us to have to respond to that emergency – “SAFETY FIRST.”
The Fire/EMS Department, Office of Emergency Management and Health Department met to discuss transportation issues of citizens and residents requiring medical treatments such as dialysis during days of inclement weather. The following are guidelines established by these agencies for dialysis patients during inclement weather.
1. Patient Responsibilities
- Keep track of local weather forecasts.
- Make sure you have your emergency phone numbers handy. When bad weather threatens, contact your dialysis center and follow instructions they may provide.
- Talk to your doctor, dialysis care team, and family about your disaster plan – what you should do and where you should go if a disaster strikes.
- Keep proper emergency supplies on hand, visit www.ready.gov for guidance.
- If you are a home dialysis patient and you lose power, follow the directions given to you by the home training staff for continuing dialysis in an emergency.
- If you are diabetic, ask your doctor how to adjust your insulin dosage during winter storm emergencies.
2. Transportation Options
- Personal – If you are an in-center patient, arrange for back-up transportation to the clinic with a friend, neighbor, or family member.
- Regional Non-Governmental Organizations – The National Kidney Foundation may be a resource for transportation assistance for patients needing transportation to dialysis centers.
3. Dialysis Center Responsibilities
- Maintaining Operations – Dialysis Centers should make preparations to ensure services are available to their patients.
- Patient Education – Patients should be well versed on appropriate preparations.
- Pre-Event Dialysis – Patients with treatments scheduled during periods of inclement weather may be scheduled for additional treatments prior to the weather event.
4. Government Support
- Contact 911 for emergency care ONLY if your condition has worsened and you are having a medical emergency