Global & Disaster Medicine

Radiation-Nuclear Emergency Resources

Saving Lives After a Nuclear Detonation

Brooke Buddemeier’s PrepTalk, “Saving Lives After a Nuclear Detonation,” emphasizes the importance of sheltering after a nuclear detonation and provides emergency managers with tools to help citizens, responders, and city officials get ready.

“The most important life-saving decisions are those made in the first few minutes and hours of an event, and those decisions are not going to be coming from Washington, D.C.,” Buddemeier said. “State and local communities need to be prepared to make them.”

Aaron Titus’s PrepTalk “Let the Community Lead: Rethinking Command and Control Systems.”

Six people were killed in a shooting in a hospital in the eastern Czech Republic today

CDC: Preparing Children with Special Healthcare Needs for an Emergency

CDC Resources


First and foremost, establish a personal support network or self-help team that is familiar with your child’s special healthcare needs, and available to help before, during, and after an emergency. Work with your team to identify the 7 key areas of support:

  1. Make arrangements prior to an emergency for your team to immediately check-in with you when disaster strikes.
  2. Exchange important keys or codes, such as, house keys, car keys, and garage door codes.
  3. Show them where you keep emergency supplies.
  4. Share copies of your emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card.
  5. Review and practice ways for contacting each other in an emergency.
  6. Notify your team when you have plans to travel, and make sure they know when you will return.
  7. Learn about each other’s needs and how you can help before, during and after an emergency.

In order to prepare your family and your team ahead of time, make sure you create an emergency care plan that considers the special needs of your child. For example, if your child has specific dietary needs or mobility limitations, make sure that your emergency plan has information on the kinds of food to avoid or a list of items that your child may need for his or her assistant devices (ex. Spare battery for an electric chair). It might also be helpful to create a kit or go-bag that has necessary back-up battery supplies, special non-perishable foods and special medicines. For example, if your child has asthma, make sure you have an adequate supply of asthma medications such as albuterol. You may also need to consider having spare albuterol inhalers at school and at home in case there’s an emergency.

Work with your healthcare provider and your child’s school to make sure they are aware of your child’s needs and have plans in place to accommodate those needs in case of an emergency. The American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics developed an Emergency Information Form to help emergency care professionals and healthcare providers give appropriate care for children with special healthcare needs during an emergency.

Special education. Teddy bear hiding behind a blackboard. Special education text drawing on the blackboard


Each emergency is different and may require different actions to keep your family safe. Depending on the emergency, authorities may ask you to stay where you are by sheltering in place, or they may recommend that you evacuate.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children with special health care needs need to have access to safe transportation, specifically family vehicles and school buses that are specific to their needs.

In order to do this, families, healthcare professionals, and school administrators need to be aware of the current guidelines for properly securing and transporting children of different ages, and with different physical and mental abilities.

Families and caretakers of children with special health care needs need to avoid using makeshift restraint systems or products that are not suitable to the child being transported.

When transporting a child with special healthcare needs, please consider the following:

  1. Place the child in the back seat of a motor vehicle.
  2. For a child who requires observation during travel, and for whom an adult is not available to ride in the back seat with, an air bag on/off switch may be considered for the vehicle.
  3. Follow all instructions by the manufacturer of the vehicle, and safety seat.
  4. Children with a medical problem should have a special care plan that details how to transport them during an emergency.
  5. Families of children with special healthcare needs need to properly install appropriate restraint systems in family vehicles and know how to use them.
  6. Parents, healthcare professionals, and educators should consider a child’s transportation needs and incorporate those needs into the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).


Each day, 69 million children in the United States attend childcare or school. As a caregiver you can protect your children by knowing their school or childcare center’s emergency plan.

If an emergency occurs during the school day, school authorities will activate their emergency action plan, which may include evacuating the children off site to a safer place or emergency shelter.

In situations such as this, wait until emergency or school authorities say it is safe for you to pick up your child. Do not go to your child’s childcare center or school during an emergency, doing so can put you and your child at greater risk. Instead, take steps now to help with reunification:

  • On an annual basis, make sure that your child’s school has up-to-date emergency contact information for your child. Be sure to notify the school every time your address or phone number changes.
  • Get a copy of your child’s school or child care center emergency plan. These will explain their evacuation plans, how the facility will contact you, and how you will be reunited with your child during or after an emergency.
  • Send your child to school with an updated backpack emergency card. It’s an easy way to share emergency contact information and can help when there is a communication barrier. Also, if your child is able, teach them how to call 9-1-1 and memorize important phone numbers.
  • Create reunification and communication plans that cater to your child’s special and specific needs. This may involve establishing non-verbal cues that will allow a child to communicate their needs to a trusted adult or peer.
  • Reviewing and practicing your plan with your team and family before an emergency will also help you recognize what might be missing from your plan.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools (OSSS) and its Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center offers a variety of resources on the topics of reunification, access, and functional needs via web pages hosted on their website. Each page offers resources from the REMS TA Center and other national and Federal partners, including CDC that can support planning around these topics before, during, and after emergencies.


Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO ( offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

Posted on December 2, 2019 by Holly Gay

After a volcanic island in New Zealand erupted, aerial searches have revealed “no signs of life” since the eruption.



Mental health: One of the most overlooked consequences of climate change


Hardly a day goes by where we aren’t reminded that the Earth’s climate is changing and that we are responsible for much if not most of that change.

The findings of one study after another are punctuated by breaking news or the direct experience of wildfires, hurricanes and floods that forced thousands of people to evacuate, damage property, and erase tangible reminders of our past.

More ubiquitous, but less publicized, are the millions of people who are exposed to heat waves, long-term droughts, rising sea levels, and eroding coastlines, forcing them to move elsewhere or spend large sums of money building communities that are habitable.

We respond to such news and events in a variety of ways. Some of us sink into deep despair or simply resign ourselves to the inevitability of global climate change. Some of us live with the trauma of having survived life-threatening extreme weather events. Some of us actively avoid the reality of climate change or spend considerable psychic energy denying that it is happening or, at the very least, denying our responsibility for its happening.

Each of these responses represent a challenge to our mental health. For instance, people exposed to life-threatening extreme weather events are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

People exposed to prolonged heat waves are more likely to make poor decisions that place them at risk for death or severe injury. People exposed to long-term drought are more likely to experience depression, interpersonal violence and thoughts of suicide. People exposed to sea level rise and coastal erosion are more likely to experience anxiety and interpersonal conflict with others in their community.

However, these mental health challenges are perhaps the most overlooked consequences of climate change.

Increasing temperatures and heatwaves, the spread of emerging infectious illnesses, and the widespread concerns about food security in drought-plagued regions of the world all threaten our physical health.

Environmental changes that threaten our livelihoods, access to food, and habitability of our communities lead to widespread unemployment and poverty, civil conflict, and dislocation.

Climate-related disasters have been the number 1 reason for internal displacement in the past decade

An Oxfam report painted a bleak picture of the damage already done

People living in small island developing states are 150X more likely to be displaced by extreme weather than people living in Europe.


Forced from home: climate-fuelled displacement

Pastoralist communities in the Somalia region

Publication date: 2 December 2019
Author: Oxfam

Climate-fuelled disasters were the number one driver of internal displacement over the last decade – forcing an estimated 20 million people a year from their homes. While no one is immune, it is overwhelmingly poor countries that are most at risk. Eighty percent of those displaced in the last decade live in Asia, home to over a third of the world’s poorest people.

Small island developing states make up seven of the 10 countries that face the highest risk of internal displacement as a result of extreme weather events. These communities are 150 times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather disasters than communities in Europe. Countries from Somalia to Guatemala are seeing large numbers of people displaced by both conflict and the climate crisis.

Despite this, the international community has made little progress towards the provision of new funds to help poor countries recover from loss and damage resulting from the climate emergency. As the 2019 UN Climate Summit opens, Oxfam is calling for more urgent and ambitious emissions reductions to minimize the impact of the crisis on people’s lives, and the establishment of a new ‘Loss and Damage’ finance facility to help communities recover and rebuild.

Climate-related disasters: Looking at the numbers


Noaga Oueda in her field of sorghum, in Burkina Faso.

Let’s look at the numbers

30 Y The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in 30 years. By the 2030s, large parts of Southern, Eastern and the Horn of Africa and South and East Asia will experience greater exposure to droughts, floods and tropical storms.
20 M On average, over 20 million people a year were internally displaced by extreme weather disasters over the last 10 years. Eighty percent of those displaced live in Asia – home to over a third of the world’s poorest people.
10 % The richest 10 percent of people in the world produce around half of global emissions. The poorest half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion people – is responsible for just 10 percent of carbon emissions.
100 Just 100 companies are responsible for close to three quarters of global emissions (71 percent) and spend millions lobbying against climate action.
700 $ Between 2008 and 2018, 18 African countries have collectively suffered an annual loss of over 700$ million from climate-related disasters.

December 7, 1941: Memento mori


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