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In light of the environmental situation on the planet each year, US citizens face more and more unavoidable casualties and natural disasters caused by climate change and the human factor. Although there are many policies and practices developed to help the community to prepare for the accidents, still a lot of work has to be done. The purpose of this paper is to assess community disaster preparedness and possible courses of action for public health nurses.
During past decades, the general preparedness of the US public increased by several times. However, the researchers identified that the level of readiness depends on the welfare of the community. Access to resources such as freshwater, healthcare, power supply, and available food sources significantly increased the adaptive capacity of the communities. According to the research, those areas that initially had the financial and socio-economic support from the side of the government would fare better after natural disasters (Himes-Cornell et al., 2018). Therefore, improving general living conditions will automatically lead to improvements in disaster preparedness.
Other possible measures include cooperation between the government and community leaders. This collaboration may be beneficial in terms of raising the awareness of the population regarding the link between climate change and natural disasters (Beatty, Shimshack, & Volpe, 2019). Despite the governmental efforts, it is evident that better education on the matter would go a long way in the personal preparedness of the citizens. Climate change is a shared problem, so each individual can contribute to solving it.
Preparedness among Older Adults
It is necessary to discuss the preparedness for natural disasters as applied to the older adults sector separately. According to Nursing Outlook, when natural disasters outburst, older adults become particularly susceptible to various trauma, and the level of mortality is higher among senior adults as compared to middle-aged individuals (Spurlock et al., 2018). In addition, some senior residents use electronic devices that support their daily living. In the setting of a natural disaster, power outages are quite common, which leaves people (who depend on their life-supporting devices) vulnerable. Additional risks include interrupted health care, compromised mobility, and lack of physical training.
Role of Public Health Nurse
Another essential factor to be considered along with community disaster preparedness is the readiness of public health nurses. Community nurses are the largest healthcare staffing available during natural disasters. Therefore, a community nurse should demonstrate strong leadership and respond to problems at hand promptly (Himes-Cornell et al., 2018). Public health nurses should acknowledge their responsibility in terms of raising community disaster preparedness and participate in community education actively. Their profound expertise and valuable insights may be used for initiating new policies and public training programs.
As applied to such areas as Orange County, CA, as a result of natural disasters, diseases, which cause the majority of deaths, arise largely due to factors such as lack of clean drinking water. Due to the damage to the water supply, the underground water system, and sanitation infrastructure, many people may need safe drinking water and good sanitation. Public health nurses play a major role in preparing citizens for community disasters and an adequate response to those (Himes-Cornell et al., 2018). In particular, they need to instruct people to boil water for ten minutes before drinking it to make sure the water is clean. If electricity and gas cannot be used for these purposes, the nurse should educate community residents, what chemicals at their disposal may be used to sanitize water. Nurses should become active leaders in educating people in rescue shelters and the community in general on the procedures and resources available to them to make sure residents understand how they can get safe drinking water.
Summing up, due to climatic changes and socio-economic problems, the number of natural disasters is increasing each year. Nevertheless, the prognosis is not so frightful, as measures are taken to prepare the community for natural disasters. Better education and public awareness, as well as strong leadership on the part of community nurses, will help to explore the issue and deal with the outcomes more effectively.
Beatty, T. K. M., Shimshack, J. P., & Volpe, R. J. (2019). Disaster preparedness and disaster response: Evidence from sales of emergency supplies before and after hurricanes. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 6(4), 633-668.
Himes-Cornell, A., Ormond, C., Hoelting, K., Ban, N. C., Zachary Koehn, J., Allison, E. H.,… Okey, T. A. (2018). Factors affecting disaster preparedness, response, and recovery using the community capitals framework. Coastal Management, 46(5), 335-358.
Spurlock, W. R., Rose, K., Veenema, T. G., Sinha, S. K., Gray-Miceli, D., Hitchman, S.,… Miller, E. T. (2019). American academy of nursing on policy position statement: Disaster preparedness for older adults. Nursing Outlook, 67(1), 118-121.