Hurricanes, and the accompanying rainfall and flooding, may threaten your family or your home. While cleaning up you'll want to protect your family, especially if someone has lung disease, from the many indoor and outdoor air pollutants and other health threats that can appear.
Below are some resources that can help.
Preparing for the Threats
- Preparation is key. Hurricanes offer more warning than many other natural disasters, so evacuate as soon as your community is ordered to do so.
- Remember, you can and should start to prepare before hurricane season starts, especially if you live where these storms are likely. Ready.gov, an initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies, has information on preparing for hurricanes, flooding and other disasters.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has preparation advice.
- Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service also have preparation advice.
- 10 Tips to Prepare for a Natural Disasters
Lung Disease and Natural Disasters
If you are on supplemental oxygen, make sure you have a back-up emergency oxygen supply that does not require electricity such as oxygen tanks or cylinders, or an extra supply of batteries for your portable oxygen concentrator,
If you use a nebulizer, CPAP or BPAP 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.
Whether your use supplemental oxygen or medical devices that require electricity, always have backup power source such as an emergency home generator. 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. Be sure you have a safe place to go in the event of an emergency evacuation. Register for a Special Needs Shelter or find out which community shelter that can handle your medical needs.
If you have lung cancer or another chronic lung disease, 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.
- All medications
- An extra written prescription in case medication is lost or destroyed
- Insurance card and healthcare provider contact information
If you have asthma or COPD, 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
- 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 or Peak Flow Meter, if prescribed by your healthcare provider
Store your Travel Pack and medicines at the correct temperature. Medicines may be exposed to extreme temperatures.
If you must evacuate, you will likely have to travel or be around crowds. Wash your hands frequently. Remind people not to smoke around you.
For more information on disaster recovery, please contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.
Climate Change and Hurricanes
- In many areas, the changing climate is leading to more frequent and more severe storms, like hurricanes. Learn more about why addressing climate change is important for lung health.
- 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.
- More information at Ready.gov can help you prepare for or respond to hurricanes.
- Need help recovering? DisasterAssistance.gov helps you to receive disaster assistance.
- 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.
- More recovery advice is available from the Environmental Protection Agency.
- 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
- Downloadable infographic handout on hurricane preparation available in English and Spanish. https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/infographics/br-hurricanes.htm
Page last updated: November 17, 2022