Fires. Tornadoes. Floods. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that natural disasters in the United States are on the rise. Are you and your family prepared if a natural disaster strikes your community?
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the first step in emergency preparedness is to formulate an emergency plan. A critical part of this plan is to ensure access to your medications in an emergency. Since many people are on multiple medications, the first place to start is the development of a comprehensive list of all medications and dosages. Include your own, those of family members, and any pet medications.
Next, remain prepared with an ample supply. If storms are brewing that may result in a loss of access to your pharmacy, be sure to obtain early refills. If your drug plan provider resists, call and explain why you need the early refill. Never wait until the last minute to obtain refills. Keep at least seven to 10 days’ worth of medication on hand, including pet medications.
If you use a mail-order pharmacy, and a storm or another natural disaster is on the horizon, provide an alternative shipping address where your provider can send your medications. Additionally, take a picture of your health card, including the pharmaceutical information, in case the card is lost or damaged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends keeping your pets’ medical records with you in case you must board your pet after a disaster. Proof of vaccinations and medications will be vital to your furry friend’s safety.
To further prepare, ensure your medications are in watertight containers if flooding may occur. If the disaster contaminates local water supplies, and your medication requires water, use only bottled water to reconstitute medications. Also keep in mind that power disruption often accompanies a natural disaster. Consider how you will store any medications that require refrigeration.
If you believe a catastrophe may have compromised your medications, contact your health care provider or a local pharmacy before you take them.