Disaster Safety for Expecting and New Parents
Disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, can be unpredictable and devastating. Learn general tips to get prepared before a disaster and what to do in case of a disaster to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.
Get Prepared for an Emergency or Disaster
Disasters can be scary and stressful, especially if you’re expecting or have a baby. You can take the following steps now to help you prepare for an emergency and better cope if an emergency happens.
- Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider about where you will get prenatal care or deliver your baby if your doctor’s office or hospital is closed.
- If you are close to your due date, learn the signs of laborexternal icon including the signs of early laborexternal icon. Talk to your healthcare provider about what to do in case of an emergency.
- Be informed—check with your local emergency management agencyexternal icon to find out how to get emergency alerts (such as text alerts).
- Make a family communication planpdf iconexternal icon for how you and your family will contact one another and what steps you will take in different types of situations.
- Prepare an emergency kit that includes a 3-day supply of food and water, health supplies including medications, baby care and safety supplies, electronics, and important documents, such as emergency telephone numbers. Plan ahead to help your baby sleep safely if you have to leave your home. Your baby is safest sleeping on her back in her own sleep area (such as a portable crib or bassinet) that does not have pillows, blankets, or toys.
What to Do During and Just After Disaster
Pregnant women have special medical needs. If you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you and your partner can take the following steps to help you stay safe and healthy in the event of a disaster.
- If you have any signs of labor,external icon call your healthcare provider or 911, or go to the hospital immediately if it is safe to leave.
- If you have to leave your home, be prepared to leave quickly and have your emergency kit ready to go.
- If staying at a shelter or in temporary housing, tell the staff as soon as possible that you are pregnant and if you have any health problems.
- If you have your prenatal vitamins or prescription medicines with you, continue taking them as directed.
Once you are out of immediate danger, continue your prenatal care even if it is not with your primary doctor.
- Once you are out of immediate danger, continue your prenatal care, even if it is not with your primary doctor. Tell the doctor or other healthcare provider if you have any health problems and if you need help getting your prenatal vitamins or medications.
- Protect yourself from infections by washing your hands often and staying away from moldy or dirty places and people who are sick. If you do get sick, talk with a healthcare provider right away.
- To help with physical stress, drink plenty of clean water and rest as often as you can. To help relieve emotional stress, talk to a healthcare provider, friend, or family member about your concerns and feelings.
Parents of Infants
A disaster can make it difficult to access necessary supplies and health care. Parents and caregivers of infants can take the following steps to help keep their families safe and healthy in the event of a disaster.
- If you have to leave your home, be prepared to leave quickly and have your emergency kit) that includes infant care supplies, such as baby food and a portable crib, ready to go. If you or your baby use prescription medicines and you have them with you, take them with you and continue taking or giving them as directed.
- If you breastfeed your baby, continue to do so. If you feed your baby formula, use ready-to-feed formula if possible. Clean water may not be available for mixing formula or washing bottles. Learn more about infant feeding during disasters. If you have questions about exposure to harmful chemicals while breastfeeding, call MotherToBabyexternal icon at 1-866-626-6847. To reach the nationwide poison control center, call 1-800-222-1222.
- If staying at a shelter or in temporary housing, tell the staff as soon as possible if you have a baby.
Your baby is safest sleeping on his or her back. Place the baby in his or her own sleep area (e.g., a portable crib or bassinet) that does not have pillows, blankets, or toys.
- If you are away from your home during a disaster, take these actions to help your baby sleep safely.
- During disasters, harmful chemicals from businesses and other places may be released into the environment. Listen to announcements from emergency officials about chemical safety and actions you may need to take to protect yourself. If you have questions about exposure to harmful chemicals during pregnancy, call MotherToBabyexternal icon at 1-866-626-6847. To reach the nationwide poison control center, call 1-800-222-1222.
- As soon as it is safe to do so, see a doctor or other healthcare provider for well-baby checkups or if you’re concerned about a health problem, even if it is not with your baby’s usual doctor. Tell them if you need help getting your baby’s prescription medications.
If you have given birth within the last two months, you may face unique challenges during disasters. In addition to the considerations for parents above, follow these tips to protect yourself in case of an emergency event.
- If you need to leave your home, prepare a kit with essential items such as copies of medical records, health care providers’ information, medicines and baby supplies. If you use feminine hygiene products, such as menstrual pads or tampons, consider bringing a supply, as they might not be immediately available when you need them.
- As soon as it is safe to do so, get a postpartum checkup if you are due for a visit, even if it is not with your usual doctor. Tell them if you need help getting your prescription medications. If you’re not ready to get pregnant, you can ask for several months’ supply of the pill, patch, or ring or consider using a birth control method that will prevent pregnancy for an extended period of time.
- If you are experiencing emotional changes or think that you may be depressed, make an appointment to talk to your health care provider as soon as possible. Learn more about depression during and after pregnancy.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response: Pregnant Women and Newborns
- Emergency Preparedness for Pregnant Women and Families with Infant pdf icon[PDF – 412 KB]external icon
- Disaster Planning: Infant and Child Feeding
- Caring for Children in a Disaster
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- Disaster Planning: People with Chronic Disease
- For health professionals: Emergency Preparedness and Response: Online Training Course