Preparing for a Natural Disaster: When CPR and First Aid Training Are Crucial


Even though September came to a close, there’s still time to take note that it’s National Emergency Preparedness Month. With three major hurricanes affecting the Unities States and its territories this season and an earthquake devastating parts of Mexico, there are many reminders about why emergency planning and preparedness is necessary no matter where you live.

Because natural disasters can keep you from leaving the home for a number of days, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all households have an emergency kit that contains the following items:

  • Three-day supply of water at minimum

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food items at minimum like canned goods and pasta

  • Three-day supply of medicines at minimum

  • Manual can opener

  • Personal care items like soap and baby wipes

  • First Aid kit

  • Emergency blanket

  • Whistle

  • Flashlight

  • Radio

  • Extra batteries

  • External cell phone chargers

  • Multipurpose tool that can serve as a knife, file, pliers and screwdriver

  • Extra cash

When a medical emergency occurs, especially during a natural disaster, health professionals agree across the board that bystanders should be prepared to administer CPR and first aid, since help will almost never arrive immediately. According to a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery, the average response time in the U.S. for emergency medical help is eight minutes. For urban and suburban areas, the average wait is about seven minutes but for rural areas it jumps to 14.5 minutes.

During a natural disaster, that response time most certainly increases or there might not be a way for medical help to reach you if the storm, tornado or flood, for instance, has made your location inaccessible. Whether you’re in a natural disaster or not, that’s a good amount of waiting before help arrives. Keep in mind that during an emergency time is of the essence. If someone has gone into cardiac arrest and isn’t breathing, he or she only has about four to six minutes before being at risk of permanent brain damage. Administering CPR in that timeframe – and doing the technique correctly – can mean the difference between life and death.

Most people can learn high quality CPR and first aid training in about two hours or less in a classroom setting. Being taught by an American Heart Association CPR instructor will ensure that the CPR training is high quality and will give you peace of mind during an emergency situation. Many people don’t know how to remain calm during a crisis, especially if a natural disaster has just occurred. Being prepared with your emergency kit and knowing CPR and first aid training will give you the tools to react quickly and smartly in dire times.

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