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|Nutrition and You: Be Prepared|
One of the best mottos for a home parenteral or enteral nutrition (HPEN) consumer is “Be Prepared.” HPEN consumers, especially, need to be prepared for weather-related emergencies and natural disasters. Special planning in advance of an emergency will ensure your unique needs are met and you can continue your therapy uninterrupted.
What do you need to do to be prepared? Here are three easy steps completely focused around your nutrition: (1) have a plan; (2) gather emergency supplies; (3) don’t panic! If you’re ready with the first two steps, number three will be easy.
A PlanA plan starts with thinking: What will you do if the electricity goes out? If clean water is not accessible? If deliveries cannot be made to your home? Also think about how you would respond in different types of emergencies (flood vs. power outage, etc.). Your plan should meet your needs for a variety of emergencies.
A plan also requires action. Develop an emergency contact list (home care provider, physician, etc.). Also, call your electric, gas, and/or water companies and tell them you have a medical condition and need to make sure your services are turned on first when power is restored. If a medical letter is required, contact your physician. A plan should also address evacuations, family communications, insurance and vital record information, medications, and supply inventory needs.
Create a health emergency card. It should include your address and phone number; your emergency contact’s address and phone number; doctor’s name and phone number; blood type; allergies (food and medication); special equipment needs; medication list (including dose and frequency); home care/pharmacy name and number; and any difficulties you may have related to seeing, hearing, or movement. Keeping a current copy of your nutrition prescription would also be helpful.
After you have thought about these questions and developed a plan, then you can gather emergency supplies.
For enteral nutrition
For parenteral nutrition
Don’t PanicIf you lose power in the winter, seek warmth as soon as possible. Don’t wait. In the summer, open your windows and create a breeze if possible. If it is too hot, seek shelter where it is cool. Heat may affect your tube-feeding formula. When it is very hot, use only small portions at a time; you don’t want open formula to overheat, allowing bacteria to grow.
If you lose electricity often, consider purchasing a generator. You can have it available to power only the essential services, such as your refrigerator, furnace, and certain lights and outlets. A generator can give you peace of mind if a power emergency should occur.
If you make a plan and have supplies on hand, you can be sure there will be no need to panic!
This column has been compiled by Karen Hamilton, MS, RD, CNSC, and Carol Ireton-Jones, PhD, RD, LD, CNSD, FACN; and reviewed by Laura Matarese, PhD, RD, LD, FADA, CNSC; Cheryl Thompson, PhD, RD, CNSD; and Marion Winkler, PhD, RD, CNSC.