Rain or shine, hospitals are expected to provide round-the-clock healthcare services. However, the recent rise in climate disasters in the US makes this easier said than done.
If you live in an area where this inclement weather is common, you have to stay on your toes. No one can predict these things, but preparing for the weather can make all the difference.
Why is it essential to prepare for inclement weather?
What *IS* Inclement weather? You may be asking yourself this.
During floods, snowstorms, or hail, simply reaching your workplace can be a struggle in and of itself. When you arrive, nurses risk getting stranded in their facilities. These unsafe weather conditions are known as “inclement weather” and it can be exceedingly difficult to plan around.
Contact your loved ones
Keep everyone important in your life updated on your current situation. Whether it is SMS, phone calls or email, use any available communication channels to tell your family you may be stuck at your hospital for an extended period of time.
It may not seem like much, but simply knowing that everyone is safe can provide a huge relief, while allowing you to plan better for the immediate future. In preparing for bad weather, this should be a top priority.
Read up on the Inclement Weather Policy
By law, every facility is required to have its own policies for weather crisis situations. These policies go over how hospitals will proceed, in the face of weather that can halt healthcare services.
Good weather policies prepare you for bad weather and cover all relevant bases. Relevant questions include, but are not limited to:
- “Where to look for local weather updates”
- “what staff members should show up for work”
- “how staff can report to management if they are unable to work”
- “how to stay safe during a weather emergency”
When you know your hospital’s inclement weather policy, you will better understand what to do, whom to report to and how operations will continue during these critical times.
Show up prepared
If you know that there will be inclement weather, but you want to work regardless, preparing for bad weather beforehand is key. Bring with you an emergency bag with all your necessary supplies. This includes toiletries, medication and some clothing. Bring enough for at least a couple of days, depending on the projected severity of the weather. When you prepare for extreme cold weather, bring winter clothing like coats, sweaters, gloves, and more.
Consider preparing your own meals, as well. Facilities will feed their workers in these situations, but (naturally) they will not account for your nutrition needs, allergies or preferences. Doing your own meal preparation gives you control over every factor mentioned.
Ask yourself this: How often should a nursing assistant bathe? The answer cannot be anything but “daily.’ Consider this when you pack, as well as whether or not you can wash your clothes onsite.
Weigh your odds
Even during challenging weather conditions, nurses must try to show up to work. Just do not forget to factor in your own personal safety. Pay attention to your local news, disaster alerts from your phone, or input from the police. Preparing for bad weather means covering all your bases.
If you do not want to put yourself at risk, but your facility still expects you to show up to work, use your paid time off or ask if you can make up for lost hours later. If that option is unavailable, ask if you can opt for unpaid leave.
If you pick up shifts with VitaWerks, simply do not take any contracts on that day. Per diem nursing offers you the flexibility to tweak your work schedule around the weather and provides rates that are competitive with full-time nursing.