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Essential Tips to Help You Medically Prepare for a Hurricane

July 15, 2020

Hurricane season for the Atlantic continues through November. With their heavy rain and wind, these storms can be extremely destructive and result in loss of electricity and services for days, weeks or even months. So Floridians should prepare not only for their personal safety but for their medical needs. After a large-scale disaster, you may find it difficult to refill prescriptions or access medical records. Planning for hurricanes in advance can alleviate some of the stress of an oncoming storm. 

Gather Medications in Advance

  • Have at least two weeks or more of necessary medications in reserve, including commonly used over-the-counter meds, vitamins and supplements.

  • Determine if any medications will require special storage or conditions (such as insulin in the refrigerator or an electrical power outlet for a CPAP unit or nebulizer).

  • Store all medications and accompanying documents in a waterproof container.

  • Some states have emergency prescription refill laws that authorize pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense early refills of certain medications when under an emergency declaration. Contact your state health department or talk to your pharmacist to learn more about the law where you live.

  • If you own a Medical Alert bracelet, be sure to wear it. 

  • Have an extra pair of glasses on hand.

  • Don’t forget about your pet’s medications. Work with your veterinarian to prepare an emergency supply of medications, and at least a one-month supply of flea-, tick- and heartworm-prevention medicines.

The Orlando Immunology Center provides a list of phone numbers and links to local emergency resources. 

Organize Your Paperwork 

Insurance documents, personal identification and emergency action plans should be collected and protected to prepare for a sudden evacuation during hurricane season. Be sure to make both print and electronic copies. Store the printed copies in sealed plastic bags and the electronic versions on cloud storage and/or flash drives that can be easily transported. 

This paperwork should include:

  • An easily located list of emergency medical contacts, including (but not limited to) doctor’s offices, pharmacy and vendors of durable medical equipment (such as CPAP) in case they are needed.

  • A list of your medical problems and past surgeries.

  • Documents such as advanced directives. 

  • Personal care plans, which may include asthma action plans, food allergy and anaphylaxis care plans, and emergency care plans for children and elders with special healthcare needs. 

  • Proofread your important paperwork for errors and missing or unclear information that could cause misunderstanding or affect your healthcare.

A national survey found that only 40 percent of Americans could list all of their prescription details if they were forced to evacuate their homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When you create your list of prescription medications and medical supply needs, be sure to write down the dosing instructions, the names of generic equivalents and known allergies. If you’re a pet owner, remember to prepare similar paperwork, both in print and electronic copies, for your pets. 

Take Action for Peace of Mind

  • Check on family, friends and neighbors. And this season, remember to follow protocols to protect yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic (maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, wear a mask and wash or sanitize your hands often).

  • Be a “second pair of eyes” for older adults, including family, friends and neighbors, who may find it difficult to proofread or understand their important paperwork, including insurance documents, care plans and health guidelines.

  • When facing a hurricane during a global pandemic, it’s normal and expected to feel anxious. You may help yourself and others by offering support in your community. 

  • Expect to have a lot of downtime and be prepared with plenty of books and music to help you pass the time.

  • Watch and listen to weather updates on news channels. Have a radio with fresh batteries on standby. 

The silver lining to thorough hurricane preparation is that doing so will make for easier planning the next time around.

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