In the wake of multiple hurricanes making landfall in the US, the FDA released guidelines for maintaining medical device safety in natural disasters, warning of issues with fluctuating power, unusual levels of water, humidity and contaminants.
The federal watchdog instructed users of medical devices to first and foremost keep the devices clean and dry and to avoid using devices that appear damaged, with special care for any electronics that have gotten wet or been damaged by water.
For devices reliant on water, the FDA laid out specific guidelines to avoid issues with contamination.
“Hurricanes, especially if accompanied by a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply. In the area hit by a hurricane, water treatment plants may not be operating; even if they are, storm damage and flooding can contaminate waterlines. Listen and follow public announcements about the safety of the municipal water supply,” the FDA wrote.
The federal watchdog instructed users to use only bottled, boiled or treated water until sources are tested and found safe. Boiling water, or treating it with chlorine tablets, iodine tablets or unscented chlorine bleach were offered as alternatives to bottled water, with the FDA releasing specific guidelines for ratios of bleach to water. The FDA warned that treating water with tablets and bleach would not remove parasitic organisms.
The agency advised users of devices that are reliant on external power to contact the fire department and electric company to let them know about their needs, and find out if their devices can be used with a battery or generator.
Special guidelines were provided for users of blood glucose monitors, with the FDA advising that heat and humidity can damage blood glucose meters and test strips.
“If you use a blood glucose meter, check the meter and test strip package insert for information on use during unusual heat and humidity. Store and handle the meter and test strips according to the instructions. Perform quality-control checks to make sure that your home glucose testing is accurate and reliable,” the FDA warned.