Individual Preparation for Y2K - Health and Medical

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Health Issues

A. First Aid

Put together a basic first aid kit. You can obtain a basic first aid manual from your local American Red Cross chapter. Include the following:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Hypo allergenic adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pair)
  • Sunscreen
  • Non-prescription drugs
    • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antacid (for stomach upset)
    • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
    • Laxative
    • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center

B. Regular Medical and Dental Care

Try to schedule needed exams, tests, etc., with results returned well before the end of 1999. If your doctor has paid attention to the Y2K problem, he may "misplace" your medical records. Get hard copies of your medical file, x-rays, etc. If you require medication regularly, ask if the Doctor will give you a prescription in advance.

Try not to schedule any elective surgery just before or just after the turn of the century. Elective meaning surgery not required for treatment of a life or health threatening or sustaining condition (usually cosmetic, e.g. liposuction, face lifts, etc.).

C. Emergency Medical and Dental Care

The greatest concern in an emergency is reaching someone who can help. If the phone lines are down, you might be able to reach emergency services by CB. However, even if phones work, there's no guarantee that the machines and equipment emergency personnel use will work, and correctly. That leaves it up to you.

Take an advanced first aid class, CPR, etc. Learn especially how to tell the difference between life threatening or non-life threatening condition. When in doubt, however, always err on the side of caution.

Ask your Doctor and Dentist what to do in a variety of situations, such as a knocked-out tooth, fever, broken bones, falls, etc. Make sure you have all the medications needed, extra prescriptions filled, etc. Learning how to deal with such situations yourself will reduce the likelihood of panic, and increase the chances of survival for the ill or injured person.

If ambulances can't be contacted, you'll need to transport the person yourself, properly and safely. Make sure you know the location of the nearest emergency facilities, and try to contact them before you go. Check with such places before the turn of the century to see what their contingency plans are in the event ambulance service, emergency personnel, communications, and power failures.

Remember, don't expect the same quality of care you're used to if there is a general emergency in your community. Try to help out, not demand you be treated before others.

D. Medical Devices

If you or anyone you know is dependent on medical devices, It important to contact the manufacturer and get their assurance - in writing - that the device will function correctly and safely. Also, speak to the Physician and express your concerns about the devices. Ask the Physician what alternatives there are to electronic or electrical medical devices, or what you can do if the device fails for any reason. Education is really your only option in this area.

According to FEMA , anyone requiring any type of life support that uses electricity should register with their local Emergency Management office -- regardless of possible circumstances.

Devices that may be affected include:

  • infusion pumps in intravenous drips
  • heart defibrillators
  • pacemakers
  • intensive care monitors
  • MRI's
  • CT and PET scans
  • dialysis
  • chemotherapy and radiation equipment
  • laboratory, radiology and other diagnostic systems
  • monitoring and control systems, including environmental and safety equipment

E. Medical Conditions

The frail elderly, people with particular medical problems that may need a caregiver to perform daily tasks, and people with handicaps, must make special plans for their safety in the event Y2K related emergency service failures occur.

Those who have the following conditions may be especially at risk and should take special precautions:

  • Acute or chronic respirator illnesses
  • Heart aliments
  • Unstable or juvenile diabetes
  • Dependence on tube feeding
  • Epilepsy
  • Tracheotomies
  • Urinary catheters
  • Colostomies
  • Dialysis dependence

F. Pharmacies and Medication

Your pharmacy maintains It records on computers, as most businesses. They are subject to the same problems. If you take medication regularly, It a good idea to ask your Doctor to write you an additional prescription ahead of time, to protect you if the pharmacy experiences any problems or delays.

Some problems may be prematurely expired prescriptions, accessing old file information no longer current, changed medication and dosage, etc. They may also "lose" your information, or have trouble processing it with your insurance carrier. Don't forget to bring cash with you when it's time to purchase.

If you are able to receive medication during and immediately after the date change, check your prescription information carefully for - your name, drug name, dosage, quantity, expiration, etc. Errors are still possible, and It a good habit to practice regardless.