As healthcare professionals, we are often called upon to stay at work when our friends and family have "snow days." While folks are uploading pictures of snowmen and warm chili recipes to Facebook, you are stuck in the hospital working a double shift. This seemed to be the case for many in the south this past week.
You may be busy taking care of a patient or creating a makeshift bed out of a blanket and a cold floor in hopes of catching a few minutes of sleep. When weather is treacherous, patient care must remain the top priority.
As healthcare professionals, how do we continue to care for others if we don't have access to our own basic needs? We must be prepared. Inclement weather "go-bags" are a start and crucial for medical professionals. These kits will help to fulfill those basic needs in extreme cases and will allow you to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Go-bags should be kept in the car and should include the following items:
Food or snacks that are ready to eat and require minimal water
A copy of important personal numbers
A change of warm clothes, shoes, and a hat
Personal hygiene items such as feminine supplies, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, etc.
Emergency cash in small denominations
Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid, or other vital personal items
Prescription and OTC medications: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or any other medications you would need
Extra keys to your vehicle
Any special needs items if you have a disability: battery or power cord for recharging a power wheelchair, an extra cane, or if you are hearing impaired, pack an extra set of batteries for your hearing aid
Games, cards, writing tablet, or a book for down time
It is important to have a plan in place for items in the go-bag that may expire. Medical veterans suggest a consistent routine such as replacing expired items (food or prescriptions) on the first day of every month. Additionally, it is imperative to be aware of all workplace emergency plans.
As I sit at home in Atlanta, watching the news on our 2014 snow jam, I am incredibly grateful for the medical staff that kept the many hospitals around the city running seamlessly. Do you have an emergency go-bag ready for times like this? Do you have a story to share about inclement weather that led to an unexpected stay at work? What else would you add to the list?
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