Natural Disasters and LTPAC Facilities: Preparing for an Earthquake (Part 2 of 4)

In the previous blog, we discussed the steps that an LTPAC facility can take to be prepared for a hurricane. Whereas there is advanced notice for a hurricane, earthquakes can strike anytime with absolutely zero warning. Therefore, it is important to prepare for an earthquake very differently than one would prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster.

 

Earthquakes are a serious risk because they can happen anytime, anywhere. In fact, many LTPAC facilities may not even know that they lie on a fault line. Additionally, even the USGS cannot always predict who is at risk from an earthquake as the affects radius depends on a myriad of factors including earthquake strength and depth at which it occurs. The following are vital tips to keep in mind when developing an earthquake preparedness plan for your LTPAC facility:

 

Create a Shelter Plan

It is vital that your facility has a shelter in place plan. This means identifying places within your facility that residents could safely take shelter in an earthquake. If you are indoors, your shelter in place positions may be under a desk or table, or even standing against an interior wall.

 

Make Sure Your Resources are Stocks

In order to best be prepared, you should have enough food and supplies to last you three days. (You should already have these supplies as they were discussed in the prior blog about hurricane preparedness.) You should also routinely check generators to make sure that they are in working order as it may take a few days for power and gas to be restored.

 

Know What to do During an Earthquake

The first thing to do is to not panic. This is easier said than done. However, most earthquakes are fairly short in duration. You will want to stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture, and equipment. Your facility’s kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot. In the event of an earthquake not use the elevator.

 

Know What to do Following an Earthquake

In the event of an earthquake, be extremely careful with lighting matches or candles as gas leaks are a significant risk. If you smell gas, shut off the main gas valve. Make sure that the area that you select to move patients to is well-ventilated to avoid patients breathing in gas from ruptured gas lines. Your staff should also heck for fire or fire hazards. If there’s evidence of damage to electrical wiring, shut off the power at the control box. During an earthquake, items may also fall out of storage closets or off of shelves. Take special precaution when opening cabinet doors.

 

Triage

In an emergency situation like an earthquake, facilities should use a triage system. Best practices include:

 

 

Conduct Regular Safety Drills

In order to best be prepared for an earthquake and to eliminate panic and confusion, you should regularly practice earthquake drills with staff as well as make sure that all new employees are aware of disaster protocol and plans.

 

Keep Data Secure

Most importantly, you should be proactive in ensuring that patient records are never lost and the continuum of care is interrupted as little as possible. An earthquake may cause you to lose power, but since most earthquakes are typically limited to a small radius, power is restored sooner than with other natural disasters. For this reason, is imperative that you have a quality patient management software solution that can get back online as soon as possible with little to no loss of data. If your facility is severely damaged and you need to move to another location, your software needs to allow those assisting to readily access patients’ most current health charts, medication lists, and emergency contact numbers. Lintech’s Comet software allows users to retrieve patient documentation from another facility.

 

If you are concerned about whether or not your LTPAC facility or software is prepared for an earthquake, call our consulting team at Lintech for a review of your facility and existing systems.

 

Our next blog will focus on another natural disaster: tornados.