I just dealt with the ramifications of the earthquake in Virginia and now a hurricane is barreling towards us. What tips can you offer?
–T.R., Richmond, Virginia
Answer: Great question. Depending on where we live, we might face earthquakes, tornadoes, power outages, flash floods, fires or hurricanes. Climate-related disasters give us little or no time to think about our medications, because we are focused on protecting our family, the property and staying safe. The following tips should help with your emergency preparedness:
Have a written list of all your medications that includes dosage, directions, your local pharmacy and physician and their phone numbers. Include both the generic and brand names. Pharmacies can actually print you a comprehensive list, but make sure it’s current.
You want to be able to grab your medications and dietary supplements, and go! I suggest you buy a toiletry or make-up bag today, and store a 10 day supply of medications in it. Make sure your name is in it. Only take important medicine, like those used for epilepsy, blood pressure, pain, heartbeat rhythm, asthma, migraines, diabetes, and so forth. Keep the drugs in their original pharmacy container. Rescuers and relief team members may dispense your medications to you, so it must be correctly labelled. Include a water bottle so you can take your medicine when needed, a flashlight and a spare set of eyeglasses. A little first aid kit would be wise to have.
If you take refrigerated medications like insulin, then you have two options. Option one is to buy a little ice pack and keep it frozen, preferably in a sealed baggie. That way, when the power goes out, grab the ice pack from your freezer, drop it in that toiletry or tote bag, and go. Option two is to purchase a ready-made cooling case, usually sold in the diabetes section of your pharmacy, and online. This stores insulin, and some might fit antibiotic suspensions, suppositories, growth hormone or epoetin (Procrit, Epogen). Two popular cooling cases are made by Frio and Medicool. These are great for regular travel too.
If you live in a region where fires are common, keep a 10 day supply of medications in a fire safe box. It’s not a bad idea for anyone to do this. I did a quick search on the Internet and found two companies, Sentry and First Alert, that sell boxes which are both fire safe and waterproof. Another consideration is to purchase a little plastic waterproof container. Look in the boating section of your sporting good store.
If you are prone to floods, or live in a hurricane zone, water purification tablets aren’t a bad idea. They use chlorine dioxide to destroy microorganisms within 15 minutes, killing Giardia, Cryptosporidium and other pathogens. Hikers and campers often carry these. One popular brand is Katadyn Micropur tablets. These tablets are usually available at places like REI sporting good stores and online.