Preparing for Hurricane Season When You Have Medical Needs

It’s that time again … hurricane season.  Are you prepared?

June 1 marked the first day and scientists are predicting an average or slightly above average number of storms this year. After the strength and destruction of Harvey and Irma, many people haven’t even recovered from last season.

The idea of a natural disaster is stressful. Preparing for a hurricane if you or your loved one has special medical needs takes this stress to a higher level. That is why it is always best to prepare before a storm is imminent.

Here are some 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 a medical condition or disability who may need assistance during a disaster.
  • 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.
  • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including 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. Sometimes called reverse 911, you can sign up for text or email alerts for your local county or city for impending disasters affecting your area. For example: Dade County alerts.

Build a kit … or three!

Food and water, first aid kits, and emergency supply kits are all extremely important. You want to 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.

Food and Water Checklist

First Aid Kit Checklist

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist

Special 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. You do not want to be without your medication in the event that you cannot get to a pharmacy.
  • Medical supplies for two weeks are also necessary. This may include things like syringes if you have diabetes.
  • 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.