The forecast says that there’s a possibility–just a possibility, mind you–of snow on Christmas Eve and flurries on Christmas Day. And while that does sound delightful in a Bing Crosby-kind-of-way, snow can catch us off guard, especially if we have health needs.
Snow, road closures, and your health
When snow closes roads, it’s hard for people to get to their medical appointments or get crucial medical supplies. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead when you hear a forecast for possible snow or severe winter weather if you have medical needs.
Things to consider if you depend on:
- Oxygen tanks, medication prescriptions, or other medical supplies: Plan with your doctor, pharmacist, or medical service provider about what to do if they can’t be delivered or if you can’t get to the pharmacy. Ask your doctor and/or pharmacist if you can have a 3-day emergency supply.
- Medical equipment powered by electricity (beds, breathing equipment or infusion pumps ): Check with your medical supply company and get information regarding a back-up power source such as a battery or generator.
- Intravenous and feeding tube equipment: Know if your infusion pump has battery back-up, and how long it would last in an emergency. Ask your home care provider about manual infusion techniques in case of a power outage.
- Make back-up arrangements for transportation, such as asking a friend with an all-wheel drive vehicle to help you get to your dialysis appointment.
- Get information about other dialysis facilities in your area. Find out if they provide the type of treatment you need.
- Contact the facility to be sure they can treat you if an emergency occurs and you cannot use your regular facility.
- Know what diet to follow if your dialysis must be delayed.
Jack Frost nipping at your toes?
If you aren’t well protected from the cold, you could be at risk for hypothermia, a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature. The very young and the elderly are especially at risk, so make sure everyone bundles up:
- Wear warm, multi-layered clothing with good hand and feet protection.
- Wear warm hats. This is particularly important since significant heat is lost through an unprotected head.
- If possible, change into dry clothes whenever clothing becomes wet.
Keep up on the weather
Of course, local news teams will be out in full force if there’s snow, their Doppler radars shivering with excitement. You can also get detailed weather information from the National Weather Service, and local information about weather impacts from the King County Emergency News blog and Alert Seattle.
Having done our public health duty, we now return you to happy thoughts of snow. At the Public Health Insider, we hope you and your family will enjoy a safe and beautiful holiday season.
May your days be merry and bright…
Originally published on December 22, 2017.