Tornadoes 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. Weather warnings offer a better chance now to protect your family from tornadoes.
- Remember, you can and should start to prepare before tornado 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 tornadoes, flooding and other disasters that may occur.
After the Disaster
- Returning Home has a list of helpful tips to protect your lung health when you return home after a disaster
- More detailed information about common concerns in tornado cleanup can be found in Indoor Air Pollutants and Health
- 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
Lung Disease and Natural Disasters
If you are on supplemental oxygen, 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 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
- 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.
If you have lung cancer, 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.
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.
- 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 tornadoes.
- 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 from Environmental Protection Agency
- American Red Cross provides guidance to help members of your family connect during and after a disaster.
For more information on disaster recovery, please contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.
Page last updated: April 28, 2021