TAMPA, FL | August 28, 2023
As Tropical Storm Idalia approaches Florida’s Gulf Coast, residents are warned to prepare to evacuate and to recognize the potential for power outages and dangerous flooding. Idalia is expected to become a major Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday night, with landfall along the Gulf Coast forecast for Wednesday. The powerful storm threatens to damage homes and communities in the aftermath of wind and flooding, and the cleanup itself creates the potential for serious and long-lasting threats to lung health. This is especially important to know for the more than 376,000 Tampa area residents who live with a chronic lung disease like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
The American Lung Association encourages residents to follow evacuation procedures issued by local authorities. To help residents protect their lung health, the Lung Association has released the following tips:
- Create an Asthma or COPD Travel Pack. Those with chronic lung disease are encouraged to gather all of their medications, delivery devices, prescriptions and insurance cards in one spot so that can quickly be transported in the event of an evacuation. A Travel Pack could include:
- Both quick-relief and controller medicine
- Medicine delivery devices, including nebulizers and spacers
- Copies of an Asthma Action Plan or COPD Action Plan
- Written prescriptions, in case medicines are lost, destroyed or run-out
- Insurance card and healthcare provider contact information
- Peak flow meter
- Allergy medicines
- COVID-19-related cloth face coverings
- Hand sanitizer
- Prepare oxygen therapy devices for possible evacuation or power outage. For individuals on supplemental oxygen, make sure you have a back-up tank and back-up power source. Check with the instructions or product manufacturer to make sure the back-up 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 stay at home and lose power, be careful. Never cook indoors with portable gasoline- or diesel-powered generators, gas stoves, charcoal stoves, grills, portable camping stoves and other devices. These produce carbon monoxide that can kill if it builds up indoors.
- Keep an eye on symptoms. Floodwaters often contain sewage, chemicals and garbage, leaving dangerous debris and making breathing more difficult. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your physician immediately. Symptoms to watch out for include wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty taking a full breath, chest heaviness, lightheadedness and dizziness.
- Ask for help. The American Lung Association’s Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists and is a free resource to answer any questions about the lungs, lung disease and lung health, including how to protect yourself during a hurricane.
More information on how to protect yourself and how to recover afterward is available at Lung.org/Disaster. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and hurricanes, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-273-5890.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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