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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


More than just hurricanes: Preparing healthcare facilities for extreme weather events

Author: Laura K. Wolf, Ph.D., Senior Program Analyst, Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch, Office of Emergency Management, HHS ASPR
Published Date: 5/30/2014 10:00:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

Author: Laura K. Wolf, Ph.D., Senior Program Analyst, Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch, Office of Emergency Management, HHS ASPR

It’s that time of year again—hurricane season is upon us! For most people who live in coastal areas, stockpiling food and water, battening down the hatches and checking on family and friends will get them through most storms. But for healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, ambulatory care centers, pharmacies, dialysis centers, and laboratories, shutting the doors isn’t an option. Often, the communities they serve rely on these facilities for continuous support before, during, and after the storm.

Hurricane Preparedness Week is a great time to remind those at healthcare facilities of the resources available to them to help plan for the worst.

The Critical Infrastructure Protection Program works with private sector partners to develop guides and checklists to prepare facilities to bounce back after a hurricane. Public utilities, including power, water, and communications systems are likely to fail, at least temporarily, during hurricanes. To make sure your facility is ready, check out:

Hurricanes aren’t the only reason to prepare for loss of these services. Facility managers across the country need to know the risks that severe weather can pose to infrastructure within their community. Every region in the U.S. is at risk for the similar destructive weather experienced during hurricanes: severe lightening, wind, tornadoes, and flooding are threats to many facilities. Even if you aren’t in a coastal region, your area is likely at risk for some other kind of damage this season.

While it’s important to understand your historical risks for such disasters, the changing climate may increase the impact of weather that you’re used to dealing with. Last summer, the President released the Climate Action Plan to help the country prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Federal government is currently analyzing its own resilience to weather and determining best practices for shoring up old structures and building new facilities with the latest flood risk reduction standards in mind. The Department of Health and Human Services is compiling resources for healthcare facilities to enhance their resilience to extreme weather events. Stay tuned for more information!

Take time to consider how you can best prepare your facility to meet the needs of those who need it most in the disaster. Some prevention now can help keep everybody safe when disaster strikes.






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