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Healthwise Maui

Q: What supplies should I have on hand for a hurricane?

Ernesto Noblejas, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Maui Health: Hurricane season is back, so it’s a good time to make sure you’re prepared. Hurricanes are a more significant risk in Hawaii than on the Mainland because you can’t just get in a car and drive out of the storm’s path. And because we’re so isolated, it could take longer for help to reach us after a storm.

That’s why emergency management officials want everyone to be “two weeks ready,” with enough supplies of food, water and other essentials for at least 14 days.

Many people underestimate how much water they will need. Experts recommend you have one gallon of water per person per day. That much water can take up a lot of space, but you can stash water supplies in empty areas around your home, like in the back of the closet or under your sink.

Have plenty of nonperishable food on hand, and ensure you can open it with a pop-top or a nonelectric can opener, as power may be out in your area or across the island.

If you take medication, make sure you have a 14-day supply at all times. Don’t wait until you run out to get your refill. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re running low on a critical medication and can’t get to the pharmacy to get more.

Think about what you need for information and communication, and make sure your cellphone is charged, with an additional power source or adapter to recharge it in your vehicle. Get a battery-powered radio that you can use to tune in to the weather station or local news to get updates on the emergency. And keep at least a quarter tank of gas in your vehicle at all times.

Finally, if you know there’s a hurricane coming, make sure the emergency alert feature on your cellphone is turned on. Civil defense and emergency management officials will use this feature as a tool to push out updates on the storm. Maui County’s Emergency Alert System, MEMA, is a free service that enables you to sign up and receive official emergency notifications. Visit www.mauicounty.gov and click on the MEMA logo.

Maui Health’s hospitals and clinics have emergency management plans in place to ensure our patients and staff remain safe. In the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, check our website at www.mauihealth.org and social media accounts (@WeAreMauiHealth) for status updates.

Hurricanes are a real threat in Hawaii, but by staying alert and being prepared, you can ensure that you and your family are ready to weather the storm.

Q: Should we be reporting our at-home results?

Chrissy Miller, Employee Health and COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Manager, Maui Health: Yes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) encourages everyone who tests positive using an “at-home” test to report those results.

At-home COVID-19 tests, also called “self-tests”, detect current infection. They do not detect antibodies which would suggest a previous infection.

Hawaii DOH uses the Aloha Safe Alert App for COVID-19 exposure notifications. Once the Aloha Safe Alert App is activated on your phone, when the app senses a close contact, your device and the close contact’s device will exchange a secure, random, anonymous code.

When you report a positive test result in the app, the system sends alerts to anyone that your device has exchanged codes with. Rest assured that these are anonymous. Your name, location or all other identifiable information is never shared.

You will receive an exposure notification if you were near someone (someone’s device) while they were infectious, within 6 feet or less, for a minimum cumulative total of 15 minutes.

Why is it important to report your self-test results? It is important because the sooner you know you may have been exposed, the sooner you can take the steps needed to get tested yourself, and quarantine if needed. This helps minimize potential spread. It also helps you notify people you may not even know. You should, of course, notify your friends and family if you were near them while infectious, but the Aloha Safe App helps notify people you may have stood in line with at the grocery store, or other close and prolonged contacts.

It is also a good idea to let your doctor know if you’ve tested positive. They may recommend additional steps if you are vulnerable to severe illness.

To report a positive home test, please visit the AlohaSafe Alert website at www.alohasafealert.org. You can also find this information on the state’s official COVID-19 website at www.hawaiicovid19.com.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in Healthwise Maui, which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.

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