When a natural disaster or tragedy strikes an area or city where you are currently working as a travel RN, do you know what to do or what is expected of you?
Nurses are extremely essential to any community’s success when recovering from particularly damaging and displacing conditions. From helping sick patients with their basic survival needs of shelter, security and treatments, to setting up disaster triage and helping members of the effected community locate their loved ones, nurses are always on the front lines helping those in need during these unfortunate events.
Go Healthcare shares 4 tips for travel nurses to stay safe during storms or natural disasters while you are working a travel assignment away from home.
Pay Attention to Live News Sources and Prepare Accordingly
It can often be very difficult to keep up with local weather and news when you’re on assignment. Hectic, stressful days (or nights) can make a travel nurse want to “tune out” whats going on outside of work. However, it’s very important to remember to keep up with the local weather report and subscribe to weather alerts and check them regularly.
In most cases, meteorologists detect storms up to a week in advance, but there is never a guarantee of exactly where the storm will go and when it will happen.
Other natural events, like earthquakes, are harder to predict and scientists have a smaller window of time (or no amount of time at all) to notify citizens that they should evacuate.
For these reasons, it is imperative that travel nurse pay attention the news (whether its direct alert notices, internet, TV, or radio) whenever you are on assignment.
Have a Personal Emergency Supply
A key part of being prepared is to have emergency supplies ready in case of a power outage. A first aid kit and an emergency water supply (other than bottled water) are two HUGE necessities. Other items, like waterproof bags to hold a flash light, radio, matches and batteries, are also life-changers in these situations can help you connect with emergency responders or family if need be. Personal care items like wet wipes, hand sanitizer and soap are great for emergency situations to stay clean and people usually carry these in their travel bags to begin with.
Create an Evacuation/Safety Route
Another important thing to do while on assignment is to figure out a plan to stay safe. Traveling and bad weather simply do not mix and can leave you in a dangerous situation. If you’re staying at a hotel or similar lodging for your next assignment, ask a staff member or find a map to see where the safest place in the building is and how to get there from your room. Usually a ballroom or dining room with no windows is safe. If nothing like that is available, the bathroom is the next safest room. Getting in the tub and covering yourself with a cushion from the couch or a chair can also help protect you from falling debris.
If you haven’t already arrived at your travel assignment location when you hear news of the storm, see if there is any way to change your flight and/or hotel reservation. Hotels in areas that are normally affected by bad weather often have no extra fees for changing your reservation or no problem with refunding your money. In dire cases where you cannot make it to the location because of things like grounded flights, see if your site location will change your orientation date (this is a long shot, but if you notify them as soon as possible they may be willing to work something out.)
Stay at Work If You Are Scheduled
If you’re working at the hospital during a storm or natural disaster, it is likely that you’re already in the safest place to be. Hospitals have multiple generators to keep them from losing power and enough food and water to feed staff and residents until you can leave. If the storm is too bad, hospitals can evacuate patients and employees to another hospital in a safer area.
Hopefully these tips will help any travel nurse that finds themselves in the path of a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or any other type of dangerous weather conditions. We at Go Healthcare Staffing always want to encourage our nurses to take all safety measures that are possible in any situation. To help others, nurses must first be safe too.