Disaster Planning and Mental Health

  • It's wise to create an emergency preparedness plan in advance of any kind of disaster.


    The one thing I recommend all of us do is first of all take advantage of getting free samples of our pills once a year from our psychiatrists to have on hand in an emergency.  You also want to try to re-fill your prescription when you have at least a week's worth of pills remaining. 


    In a pinch, your pharmacy technician can call your doctor to get a prescription filled over the phone.  The benefit of getting the free samples is that you have a supply on hand should a disaster make it difficult to get to the pharmacy.

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    Above all, stay calm. 


    If you need to evacuate because of a disaster, you can bring a book with you to read to occupy your time.  Libraries will waive the fines of any library book you can't return on time due to a disaster.


    What You Can Do to Prepare for an Emergency:


    1.  Look for the emergency exits in your home and office buildings.  Every building should have an emergency plan.  Insist on being informed about it.


    2.  Know the location of the hospital nearest your home and work.


    3.  Become familiar with items in a first aid kit and how to use them.  (Contact the American Red Cross.)


    4.  Know how to set your radio to the frequency of a local station.


    5.  Create an emergency communications plan for your loved ones.  Choose an out-of-town contact person for everyone to check in with in the event of a disaster.  Discuss with your household a meeting place and a plan of action in case of loss of contact.


    6.  Develop a family evacuation plan and kit.  Assemble family disaster supplies.


    7.  Discuss with your family, neighbors, building management and friends the types of disasters that could occur and your preparations.


    8.  Notice and report suspicious behavior.  Don't be afraid to call 911 if you spot strange comings or going., inappropriate behavior or strange requests, highly unusual mail or packages, especially those with no return identification.


    9.  Trust your instincts.  Remain calm and flexible.


    Evacuation Kit.


    This should fit in a backpack or other easy-to-carry bag.  Adjust the number of items to the size of the household.


    Small first aid kit (You can contact the American Red Cross for information about first aid kits.)

    change of clothes (seasonally appropriate)

    Hat or cap with visor

    Comfortable walking shoes


    Particle or surgical mask

    Eye wash

    Prescription drugs

    Small flashlight and extra batteries

    Small battery-operated radio with extra batteries


    Small bottle of water


    Map of your city

    Passport/driver's license/wallet/cash

    Credit cards/checkbook/insurance cards

    Copies of important documents

    Cell phone (if you have one)

    Emergency phone numbers


    Prescription eyeglasses

    Pet and infant supplies


    Disaster Supplies.


    These items should be in every home and office:


    Your evacuation kit as suggested above

    Large first aid kit

    3-day supply of non-perishable food

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day for 3 days

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    Manual can opener

    Hard-hat or bike helmet

    Non-porous tape for sealing windows

    Smoke detectors with extra batteries

    Fire extinguisher


    You can contact the American Red Cross at (866) GET-INFO or log on to the American Red Cross Website or the Red Cross Prepare homepage.     

    You can read The CafeTACenter disaster preparedness white paper too.




    In the event of a fire in your building:


    Read, know and follow the recommendation of your fire safety notice or the fire safety plan for your building.  Contact your building management if you didn't get one because recommendations are different for fireproof and non-fireproof buildings.


    In the event of a fire, remain calm and follow instructions of Fire Department personnel.  Know the location of all exists and stairs.  Be sure both home and office have working smoke detectors.  You should know how to use a fire extinguisher.


    Remember, do not use elevators. 


    Keep doors closed.  If you evacuate, close the door but if possible do not lock it.  If you do not know where the fire is, or if it is unsafe to evacuate, call 911, even if the fire has already been reported.  The 911 dispatcher will contact Fire Department personnel on the scene and let them know where you are.  Once you are safely outside, do not go back inside for any reason.

Published On: August 21, 2013