Preparing for a Hurricane When You Have Medical Needs

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Hurricanes are difficult to predict, but there is one thing you can count on every year.  You need to be prepared, especially if you have medical needs.

Some preparation steps you can take right away:

  • Register with your area’s emergency management office. They all maintain lists of people in the community who have medical needs during a hurricane.
  • Know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. You may consider driving it first so you know exactly where you are going.
  • Get a go-bag. This disaster supply kit could include a change of clothes, a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.
  • Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. For example: Dade County alerts.

Build a kit … or three!

Food and water, first aid kits, and emergency supply kits are all extremely important. Make sure that you include the essentials and consider potential scenarios when packing them.

Luckily, government organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other organizations have comprehensive checklists for you to use.

Special hurricane to-dos for people with medical needs

  • Carry your important medical-related information with you. This should include:
    • A list of prescription and over-the-counter medications with dosage information.
    • A contact list of your doctors, clinics and pharmacies.
    • An emergency contact list (with the names, phone numbers, and email addresses).
    • Descriptions of any illnesses you have, including possible symptoms. For example, if you have diabetes, write down what happens if your blood sugar drops.
    • If you have a hearing or speech related disability, note the best way to communicate with you.
    • Dietary needs or allergies.
  • Keep your personal ID and medical insurance cards in a safe space that will stay dry.
  • Have at least a two-week supply of medication or even more if possible.
  • Medical supplies for two weeks are also necessary. For instance, if you have diabetes, this may include things like syringes.
  • Make sure you have batteries for medical devices such as hearing aids.
  • If you rely on an electric wheelchair or some other powered mobility device, keep a non-electric version for emergency use.
  • If you or a loved one is receiving home health services, ask your provider about emergency procedures. For example, if you are doing home infusion you may want to inquire about having a back-up drip system. Also, if you depend on electric power for home dialysis, you need to know your options for temporary emergency power.
  • If you DO NOT have insurance, look into the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program. This is a government program that provides uninsured people with prescription medicines, medical supplies, medical equipment and vaccinations.
  • Remember, sanitation is important to prevent infections. Have hand sanitizers available in case your running water is out or compromised.

*Note: These are general guidelines and should not be mistaken for medical advice. Follow the instructions given to you by your medical care provider.