Preparing for an Emergency: Expect the Unexpected

Posted on August 22, 2022   |   

This post was authored by Kristen Szymonik, BS, RRT, AE-C

Emergencies have the worst timing. They happen when we least expect it and often when we are not prepared. Being ready for an emergency or natural disaster is important for everyone, but especially for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung conditions.

You may be thinking that you don't need to worry about natural disasters because you don't live in an area that has wildfires, mudslides, and floods. But natural disasters and emergencies can occur anywhere. Emergencies don't have to be dramatic events like fires and floods. They can be as simple as losing electricity for a few hours—and not being able to run your oxygen concentrator or other medical equipment.

Consider where you live: Does your area have snowstorms, severe thunderstorms, or extreme temperatures that could cause you to lose electricity or phone service?

Consider your medical needs: Do you use oxygen, take refrigerated medications, or use a wheelchair or scooter? Losing electricity for a few days can be dangerous if you need it to power your medical equipment.

The first step in being ready for an emergency is to make a plan. The COPD Foundation offers a tool that can help. The Foundation's Disaster Preparedness Plan is a booklet that features information on emergencies and natural disasters that can affect people with COPD. The booklet contains forms, charts, emergency contact lists, and other tools to help you plan ahead and stay safe in any emergency.

Download a free copy of the Disaster Preparedness Plan and share it with your family, friends, and caregivers. These are the people you may need to rely on for help in an emergency. They need to be aware of your needs.

While creating your disaster preparedness plan, be sure to include a copy of your My COPD Action Plan. If you don't have one already, download a free copy and fill it out with your health care provider. The My COPD Action Plan tells you how to manage your COPD on good days and bad. It is a very helpful tool for people living with COPD.

While no one wants to experience an emergency or natural disaster, it is important to be prepared in case one happens to you. Create a disaster preparedness plan, share it with your family and friends, and relax knowing that you are ready for anything!

Do you have a disaster preparedness plan? How do you prepare for emergencies? Let's learn from each other and get started on our plans today!


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  • Kristen,

    I really enjoyed reading this very informative post. I especially appreciated the portion where you advised us to share our disaster planning with loved ones and caregivers. I think that is a very important piece of preparedness that is often overlooked. Thank you for the reminder.
  • I notified utility companies of my oxygen use. Advised to do so in case of emergency so they are aware of my inability to evacuate as easily as their able-bodied customers. Received email from service manager in my area and sent messages back and forth to confirm we are on same page.
    • My city's alerts system has me in as electricity dependent, due to my nebulizer use. They are aware of my COPD and asthma, in case I call 911 in a medical emergency.