One of my very first memories is sitting in the dark on mattresses in the hall with my family as Hurricane Camille battered the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes have always been a bit of a way of life on the Gulf Coast, but lately they’ve become a way of life here on the East Coast as well. This recent hurricane (“Superstorm Sandy”) left many sitting in the dark with the effects of the storm right at their doorsteps.
If you’re a pregnant woman, a storm like this can be a threat to both you and your baby. How can you prepare to weather a storm like this?
Getting ready for the storm
Fortunately, in this day and age, we usually have some warning that a weather event is coming. It’s important that you prepare ahead of time by stocking up on basic supplies of food and water. You will need nonperishable foods that can be easily prepared without power. Since you’ll have no guarantee that you will have potable water, either buy bottled water or collect water in clean containers ahead of time.
Fuel, shelter, and a little cash
Make sure that your car is full of gas, since gas pumps are run by electricity and will not pump if the power goes out. If you are lucky enough to have a generator, be sure to have a gas supply for it on hand too. (NOTE: To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, you should only run a generator outside of the house in a well-ventilated area.) Find out ahead of time where the local shelters are, in case you need to vacate your home for a shelter. And, since ATMs also only operate when the current is flowing, get enough cash to meet your immediate needs.
Talk to your healthcare provider beforehand
It’s wise to plan what you’d do if you were to go into labor or have any pregnancy complications. Also check in with your healthcare provider to find out what you should do if you have any problems with your pregnancy. (I worked once in a hospital in Florida that actually asked all those patients who were very close to their due dates to come in and stay at the hospital during severe storms.)
If you decide to evacuate from your town or go into a shelter, you will need to let your healthcare provider know where you are going to be and how he or she can reach you. Remember to take all of your medications and medical information with you and, during the storm, you might also appreciate one of those emergency radios with a wind-up charger.
When the storm arrives
During the storm, it’s important to remain indoors and stay off the roads. Keep to the middle of your home, away from any windows. Be very careful with candles and open flames. If you have to go out, do not drive through standing water because you cannot tell how deep the water is or how rapidly it is moving–you may or may not make it through!). If you do have an emergency, call 911 and allow the first responders to assist you.
After the storm
When the storm is over, be very careful venturing out. Roads may be blocked and power lines might be down. Don’t eat any foods that may have spoiled, and drink only water that you know is safe. Be sure to drink adequate water and get plenty of rest. Again, if you need to get to the hospital, call 911 and let the first responders guide you.