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LIVE HEALTHY: Hurricane season and a pandemic
Live Healthy Hartsville

LIVE HEALTHY: Hurricane season and a pandemic

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I still cannot find any Clorox wipes.

I also have not been able to locate Lysol Laundry Sanitizer, which I used pre-COVID. Some of my usual paper products have remained scarce as well. Now we have hurricane season knocking at the door with three named storms already.

You know what that means? Sacred storm staples like bread and milk disappear. You have no fresh batteries for your flashlight, and you forgot to charge your phone. In the 2020 Hurricane Season, preparedness will be even more important as we navigate this in the time of COVID-19.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages everyone to do three key things to prepare for disasters. First, get an emergency supply kit. Second, make a family emergency plan and third, be informed about the different types of emergencies and the appropriate response to each.

Most of us usually keep some basic supplies on hand all the time, but with supplies already challenging to come by because of COVID-19 this might be even more of a challenge. In the case of emergency, you will want to have at least three days’ worth of supplies readily available. While you will want to have a full emergency supply kit at home, you may want to consider having a smaller kit at work or in your vehicle.

Things to include in your kit are prescription medicines and glasses, infant formula and diapers as well as pet food and extra water for your pets. It is important to keep copies of important documents such as insurance policies or bank account information in a waterproof container. You will want to have some cash available, too. You may not be able to use your debit card for purchases or even at an ATM, so cash on hand might become important.

Bleach, which can be used either as a disinfectant or to treat water, will be important. Stick with plain bleach — none of the scented stuff. A fire extinguisher is a great item to have as well as a NOAA Weather radio and extra batteries. You will also want to make sure you have flashlights and enough batteries for them. Keeping a whistle available will allow you to alert someone that you need help. Finally, having extra garbage bags, moist towelettes and a first aid kit can help round out your kit.

When it comes to food and water, you will definitely want at least three days’ worth of supplies on hand. One gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation is recommended. In hotter areas, this need might be higher, so take that into consideration. Drink water instead of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which can have a dehydrating effect on the body.

Stocking up on food, you will want to think about nonperishable items that can be utilized A few things that I usually keep on hand include packets of tuna, canned fruits and vegetables, protein bars and peanut butter. Dried fruits and nuts are a great way to get energy in your body with a smaller volume of food. If you have perishable foods and a grill, try to use them up first.

Your family plan is important, because when a disaster strikes you may not all be together. Figuring out ahead of time how you will communicate with each other is vital. Make sure everyone has adequate minutes on their phone and each person knows who they are responsible for reaching out to. Text messages may go through when a phone call will not, so this may be your first line of approach.

Having emergency contact information available can be beneficial as well. If you are like me, you may need to clean up your contact list and eliminate old, unused phone numbers. You can create a family plan online at that you can print onto a wallet-sized card, so that everyone will have the same information available to them.

You may have to make a decision as to whether you should stay in your home or you should seek shelter elsewhere. Always listen to the emergency management plans issued by your local Emergency Management team. We have many people in Darlington County dedicated to analyzing the disaster information and keeping us informed as to what we need to do to protect ourselves.

If you must seek shelter, be aware that the one you usually go to may not be open this year. This is why you will want to stay up to date on what the county Emergency Management team is sharing. You will want to pack hand sanitizer; cleaning materials and two cloth face covers per person.

While at the shelter, do the things that we have been recommending all along during this pandemic. Wash your hands frequently. Try to distance yourself six feet from people not in your household. Do not gather in groups and avoid crowds. All of this may not be possible, but you will want to do as much of this as the space allows. If possible, wash your face covers on a regular basis.

If you become sick while at the shelter, notify the shelter staff immediately. It will be important for them to reach out as quickly as possible to make sure you receive the appropriate medical care.

You can follow the Darlington County Emergency Management Department on Facebook as well as your local police, fire and sheriff departments for more information. There is also a mobile app that you can download: The South Carolina Emergency Management mobile app. This app allows you to access local information, including evacuation maps, traffic and weather information, and it has an emergency strobe light and alert whistle.

Hurricane season is here. While we have time to talk and prepare for potential disaster situations, we need to take action. The 2020 Hurricane Season started quickly with early storms. With the COVID-19 pandemic still occurring, take the time now to the extra preparations that this year might require. More information on other types of disasters can be found through FEMA or through the website.

Until next time … live healthy.

Kimberly Alton, RD, CSSD, LD, is the director of food and nutrition services at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center.

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