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Nutrition and You: Be Prepared
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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 Plan 

A 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.

 

Emergency Supplies

For enteral nutrition

  • Formula that: is easily accessible; does not need to be refrigerated; and is in small amounts (such as 12 oz cans). These can work with bolus, intermittent, and pump feedings, and with smaller containers you don’t need to worry about storing open formula. Have a hand-operated can opener if you need one to open your formula.
  • Extra bags or syringes in case you do not have a clean water supply to wash them out.
  • Water for flushes: Do you have a supply of “safe” water? Bottled water will be important if the water supply is affected, or if your home has a well and the water pump is affected by a power outage.
  • Pump: Keep and maintain batteries for your HEN pump. Check the expiration dates quarterly and use the oldest first.
  • Flashlights: Some flashlights only have a three-month life expectancy, so check them often. Or get a good one! The small ones with focused light can be extremely useful. Additionally, battery-operated candles offer good light and ambiance! 

For parenteral nutrition 

  • PN solution: If you have ready-to-use PN, in a multi-chamber bag, that doesn’t need refrigeration, you are set as far as refrigeration and power outages. Most of you, however, have PN that needs to be kept refrigerated. If the power goes out: Keep the refrigerator closed as much as possible to keep the cold air in.
  • Put ice and ice packs (that you keep on hand for this and travel) in a cooler to keep your PN cool.
  • Stick a thermometer in the cooler. The temp should be around 40 degrees F. If it starts to climb, you should not use your PN.
  • Do not put your PN out in the snow to keep it cool. That is too cold! 

Power

  • Keep and maintain spare batteries for your HPN pump. Check them at least quarterly.
  • Flashlights and battery-operated candles (see above, under enteral nutrition).
  • Make sure you have enough light to read clearly. You don’t want to use the wrong drug or syringe.
  • Clean hands: Without soap and water, you may use hand sanitizer. Be extra careful with your technique. 

Don’t Panic 

If 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!

 

Resources Online 

www.noaa.gov (for weather information)
emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/index.asp
www.FEMA.gov/plan
www.ready.gov
www.usda.gov

 

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.
LifelineLetter, September/October 2011

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5/6/2017
Oley Regional Conference

This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.

 

Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 

 

This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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