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How to pack a Laryngectomee Emergency Kit

Jenna Ruback Nuzzi, M.S., CCC-SLP

As a speech pathologist, I routinely discuss the importance of packing a Laryngectomee Emergency Kit with my laryngectomy patients because they have unique medical needs and require special supplies.

According to the CDC, all emergency kits should have at least a three-day supply of medications and other necessary medical supplies.

It is critical for the laryngectomee to prepare ahead of time because in the event of a natural disaster (or other emergency), you may not be able to get the supplies, especially prescription-only items, that you use on a daily basis to manage your airway or communication device. And as we've seen with recent wildfires, contaminants and pollutants in the air may make breathing more difficult for the laryngectomee compared to other individuals.

I recommend to my patients that they have at least a one-week supply of any and all materials that they use to manage their airway, voice prosthesis, and electrolarynx. This means, if you change your own prosthesis, have an extra prosthesis on hand; if you use heat-moisture-exchange (HME) cassettes, have an extra box in your kit; if you use an electrolarynx, have an extra battery charged at all times.

In addition to the supplies that my patients use on a daily basis, I also recommend that all laryngectomees have a "Total Neck Breather" medical alert bracelet, stoma scarf, and alternative means for communication such as a pad of paper and pens in their kits.

It's also important to review what to include in your emergency kit with your speech pathologist or otolaryngologist to make sure that you have all the supplies that are right for you.

Don't forget: many of the items in your kit may expire and should be rotated out so that you don't find yourself with expired supplies when you need them most.

Here is a brief list of supplies to think about in order to get a conversation started with your clinician:

  • Laryngectomy tube and neck ties
  • Items to clean supplies (brush, hydrogen peroxide, etc.)
  • Adhesive base plates
  • HME cassettes
  • Voice prosthesis (if using a patient-changeable prosthesis)
  • Plug for voice prosthesis
  • Catheter in case prosthesis is dislodged
  • Prosthesis cleaning brush and pipette
  • Suction machine
  • Suction catheters
  • Batteries and oral tubes for electrolarynx
  • Stoma scarf
  • Medical alert bracelet
  • Alternative means of communication (pen and paper)
  • Shower guard

Stay safe and be prepared with your Laryngectomee Emergency Kit. To learn about additional general preparedness information, please visit www.cdc.gov