Emergencies & Natural Disasters

Wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other natural events can create unhealthy air, especially for people with lung disease.

These resources help you respond to unexpected events that can threaten the air quality in your community and your home. If you are impacted by an emergency or natural disaster listen to the information and directions from your local Emergency Management Agency.

Remember, you can and should start to prepare before the weather season starts, especially if you live where storms are likely.

10 Tips to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

Create an emergency plan to share with your healthcare providers, family and friends.

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Lung Disease and Natural Disasters

If you or a family member live with asthma, COPD or another chronic lung disease, you can learn self-management strategies now that will help you keep your lung disease under control during a disaster. 

Make sure you have a backup tank and backup power source. Check with the instructions or product manufacturer to make sure the backup power source will work for your device. Let your power company and emergency responders know you are using a medical device that needs power.

If it that requires electricity, have a back-up plan in the event of a power outage.  Many newer nebulizer models can be battery powered or used with a car adaptor. You could also ask your healthcare provider if there is a similar medication that you can use when your nebulizer does not work.

Create an Asthma or COPD Travel Pack to ensure you have all of the medicines and instructions you need in one easily accessible place. When creating your Travel Pack consider including:

  • Copies of your Asthma Action Plan or COPD Action Plan
  • An extra written prescription in case medication is lost or destroyed
  • Insurance card and healthcare provider contact information
  • Both quick-relief and controller medications (make sure there is enough to get you through your stay, and extra in case you get held over unexpectedly)
  • A spacer
  • A Peak Flow Meter, if prescribed by your healthcare provider
  • Allergy medication

Store your Travel Pack and medicines at the correct temperature. Medicines may be exposed to extreme temperatures.

Speak with your doctor in advance about changes in treatment or need for additional protective steps that the storm might bring. Find out how to reach them and access treatment during the emergency. Find out who to call if you have an adverse reaction to a medication or treatment and you can’t get to your normal care provider.

You will likely have to travel or be around crowds. Wash your hands frequently. Remind people not to smoke around you.

Climate Change

In many areas, the changing climate is leading to more frequent and more severe storms. Learn more about why addressing climate change is important for lung health.
What you can do

More Disaster Resources

  • Need help recovering? DisasterAssistance.gov helps you to receive disaster assistance. 
  • See a chemical or oil spill? Call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 (24 hours a day every day). Chemicals can give off toxic air pollution, so report them as quickly as possible.
  • What to do with disaster debris? Don't burn it. This lists ways that work to get rid of debris without adding to the burden to your health. More information is also available in this guide to mold cleanup after disasters.
  • The American Red Cross provides guidance to help members of your family connect during and after a disaster.
  • USA.Gov can provide steps to finding family and friends, temporary housing, emergency food, tips to let people know you are safe and steps to replace important vital documents after a natural disaster.

Page last updated: March 19, 2024

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