Emergencies and disasters are unpredictable! The time to get ready is now – you don’t want to be caught unprepared in a tornado or flood. And, as we all know in Michigan, a strong thunderstorm can knock out power in your home for days.
Keep your family safe and healthy by following these tips for pregnant women and families with infants:
- Ask your doctor what the options are for prenatal care and delivery if your doctor’s office or hospital closes.
- Stay informed. Be sure you are signed up for emergency alerts through email, phone or text. You can usually sign up with your local emergency management agency.
- Be sure you have a family communication plan. How will you contact one another? Determine the steps you will take in various situations.
- Have an emergency kit! Make sure you have everything you need, including pre-natal vitamins if you are pregnant, a portable crib for an infant, emergency phone numbers, and any special medications. Check out this guide from the March of Dimes.
- If you have to evacuate your home, ensure you have a safe sleep option so baby can sleep in his or her own space that can be kept clear of pillows, blankets and toys.
- If you are pregnant and must stay in a shelter or other temporary housing, be sure they know you are pregnant and inform them of any special needs you may have.
- No matter where you are, continue to take prenatal vitamins and any other special medications. Same goes for baby if he or she needs medication.
- As soon as possible, continue with prenatal medical care, even if you must use a different doctor or clinic. Save any paperwork so your primary physician can add pertinent information to your medical record.
- Washing your hands is important for keeping viruses and bacteria at bay, and it’s especially important if find yourself in a shelter or temporary housing with many other families.
- Natural disasters may release dangerous chemicals into the air or water. Listen to public service announcements. If you are concerned, call Mother to Baby at 866-626-6847 or the nationwide poison control center at 800-222-1222.
- Disasters and emergencies are stressful – Dad, this means you, too. Drink plenty of clean water and get as much rest as possible. Talk to someone – a professional, family member, friend or clergyperson – about how you are feeling. Stress comes with the territory in pregnancy and new parenthood, but too much stress can be harmful!
- Breastfeeding is the safest way to feed your infant, but if you are using formula, be sure you have prepared formula in your emergency kit. Remember there may not be safe water or clean supplies for mixing formula.
- If you have any signs of labor, call 911 or go to the hospital immediately if it is safe to leave. But be prepared with a safe birthing kit in case you find yourself unable to go to the hospital. As soon as possible, get yourself and baby to a postpartum visit, even if you have to go to a different provider or clinic.
Make a plan for your peace of mind. Even the most unpredictable situations can be managed safely when you are well-prepared.
– Kathy Henry is an adoptive parent to two teenage boys. She is also a marketing consultant, business coach and copywriter who volunteers for several organizations, including the Beaumont Parenting Program.