Recent hurricanes have taken our breath away, leaving us at times to feel physically and emotionally devastated.  For people with chronic respiratory disorders, it can be even more difficult to recover.

Long after the likes of Charley, Frances, and Ivan have moved out, people with lung disease can be suffering the effects.  If you have emphysema, asthma, bronchitis, allergic rhinitis, or shortness of breath, here is some of what you need to know to weather the rest of hurricane season.

Mold and mildew are rampant following flooding.  Be especially vigilant if you suffer from asthma.  Remove any mold or mildew you see and be careful with outdoor cleanup.  At the first sign of chest tightness or breathing difficulty, use your prescribed inhaler or nebulizer.

  • If you use oxygen at home, make sure your oxygen supply is replenished as well as any other medications. If you haven’t already notified your power company that you use life-sustaining electric medical equipment, call them now before the threat of another storm. They can put you on a priority list should you lose your
  • Make sure you are pre-registered with the Lee County Public Safety Special Needs Program for Special Care Centers, managed by Lee County Emergency Management. Public Shelters do not accept patients with oxygen. Due to limited space, there is a waiting list for the special care centers.
  • In addition to all of the other necessary precautions advised by Lee County Emergency Management and other authorities, when you have respiratory problems, you need to have your own “breathe easy” hurricane survival kit.  Assemble:

1. A 14-day supply of inhalers, nebulizers and other essential medications.

2. Back-up oxygen cylinder including cleaning supplies for respiratory equipment.

3. A portable battery operated nebulizer machine.

4. Buy a DC invertor, which would permit you to operate a nebulizer from a car cigarette lighter. Check with your respiratory equipment supplier for compatibility of the invertor with the nebulizer.

During hurricanes, try to stay calm.  Emotional stress increases your heart rate, quickens breathing, makes breathing more difficult and demands more oxygen for the body.  If your breathing gets worse, increase the dose or frequency of your inhaler or nebulizer, as directed by your physician.  If difficulty breathing persists and worsens, call 911 for emergency help.

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In People With Lung Disease? 
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If you need further information on hurricane preparedness for people with lung disease, you may contact the following resources:

  • American Lung Association, 12734 Kenwood Lane, Suite#25, Fort Myers, FL 33907. Tel: 239-275-7577 or 800-940-1556.
  • Special Needs Coordinator, Lee County Emergency Management, PO Box 398, Fort Myers, Florida 33902. Tel: 239-344-5401, Fax 239-344-5419, Web site: