Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hurricane season: Prepare now or stress out later

The Atlantic hurricane season starts Friday. Although storms usually don't pose a big problem early in the summer, now is the time to get your medical tool kit together, particularly if you have special health care needs. You don't want to be dealing with mail-order prescriptions or replacing health insurance cards when the big one is headed our way.

Special needs shelters

If you use oxygen, have a medical condition dependent on electricity, need assistance managing a medical condition or are disabled, call your county emergency management center now to reserve a space in a special needs shelter.

"That helps us plan for cots, meals and staffing at shelters. The more information we have in advance, the better," said Ryan Pedigo, public health preparedness director for the Hillsborough County Health Department.

• In Pinellas, you can register online at pinellascounty.org/emergency or call (727) 464-3800.

• In Hillsborough, go to www.hillsboroughcounty.org/emergency or call (813) 307-8015, ext. 4406.

• In Pasco, call (727) 847-8137 or go to www.pascoemergencymanagement.com.

• In Hernando, go to www.hernandosheriff.org/em/ or call (352) 754-4083.

Food and water

• Bottled water: a gallon per person per day for at least three days.

• Can/bottle opener.

• Shelf-stable food, three-day supply.

• Refrigerator/freezer thermometer. Cold food that rises above 40 degrees must be discarded after two hours. This includes perishables such as milk, eggs, meats and leftovers.

• Cleaning products.

• Bleach.

• Heavy-duty plastic trash bags in case garbage collection is interrupted.

• Watertight plastic storage containers, some for food.

• Large coolers.

• Household bug spray.

Prescriptions and medical devices

Think carefully about all of the drugs and other items you need to manage your health. Here's a checklist to start; ask your doctor for more guidance:

• Two-week supply of all prescription medications.

• Separate list of all prescription medications with dose, schedule, doctors' names, doctors' phone numbers and pharmacy phone numbers stored in a zip-top plastic bag.

• Small cooler and cold packs for medication that requires refrigeration.

• Extra plastic zip-top bags to keep everything dry.

• Two-week supply of all that's required to manage diabetes, asthma, COPD and other chronic health conditions, including wires, cables, tubing, chargers, adaptors and nebulizers.

• Mobility equipment such as a wheelchair, a walker or a cane. If you're using a motorized scooter, have a regular wheelchair available in case batteries can't be recharged.

First aid supplies

Cuts, rashes, bug bites and stomach ailments are common in the aftermath of a storm. Take this list along as you shop for your hurricane supplies:

• Nonprescription pain medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin.

• Antihistamines to cope with allergic reactions.

• Antidiarrhea medication.

• Medication for upset stomach and acid reflux.

• Adhesive bandages, precut bandages, medical tape.

• Cotton balls.

• Alcohol, alcohol wipes and peroxide for disinfecting wounds.

• Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin.

• Antiseptic spray for sunburn, cuts, scrapes or insect bites.

• Scissors.

• Antibacterial hand soap.

• Alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Disposable cold packs for strains and sprains.

• First-aid manual.

• Waterproof plastic storage bin to hold these items.

Personal and pet items

Think of all of the little things your family uses every day, and think how much you'd miss them if you had to evacuate:

• Baby supplies such as formula, bottles, medication, shelf-stable food, diapers, powder, lotion, baby wipes and pacifiers.

• Your regular vitamins and supplements.

• Contact lens solution and extra disposable lenses.

• Spare eyeglasses and sunglasses.

• Insect repellent.

• Sunscreen.

• Lip balm with SPF.

• Disposable gloves and rubber gloves for heavy-duty cleaning.

• Paper towels.

• Wash basin.

• Tampons, sanitary napkins.

• Pet medications, bedding and food. Look now for a place that accepts pets — many shelters do not.

Health-related paperwork

• Medical records (including living will, health care surrogacy).

• Insurance policies.

• Health insurance cards.


Comfort items you may want to take to a shelter:

• Folding lounge-style beach chairs (in case there's a shortage of cots), pillows, blankets, towels.

• Games, playing cards, battery-operated book light.

• Eye mask and earplugs.

• Battery operated MP-3 player or radio with earbuds.

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Pinellas is at the center of a rise in Florida flu outbreaks

Feeling a little sniffly or scratchy or stuffed up? It may be the flu, and you don’t want to wait around to see a doctor this year. This is not the time to write off flu-like symptoms, Tampa Bay area health officials and doctors warn. The influenza v...
Updated: 5 hours ago

CDC says ‘There’s lots of flu in lots of places.’ And it’s not going away anytime soon.

A nasty flu season is in full swing across the United States, with a sharp increase in the number of older people and young children being hospitalized, federal health officials said Friday.The latest weekly data from the Centers for Disease Control ...
Published: 01/12/18
Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

Mease Countryside Hospital begins $156M expansion project

SAFETY HARBOR — Mease Countryside Hospital is launching a $156 million expansion to build a four-story patient tower with all private rooms and a four-story parking garage.The tower will include 70 private patient rooms, a 30-bed observation unit, cr...
Published: 01/11/18
Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

Flu shot? This is why you should still get one this year

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be a bad one. Much of the country endured a bitterly cold stretch, causing more people to be crowded together inside. The strain that has been most pervasive, H3N2, is nastier than most. And, we’re being told, ...
Published: 01/11/18
He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him.

He was 21 and fit. He tried to push through the flu — and it killed him.

Kyler Baughman seemed to be the face of fitness. The 21-year-old aspiring personal trainer filled his Facebook page with photos of himself riding motorbikes and lifting weights. He once posted an image of a kettlebell with a skeleton, reading: "Cros...
Published: 01/11/18
Serena Williams tells scary story of childbirth complications

Serena Williams tells scary story of childbirth complications

The image on the cover of the February issue of Vogue features Serena Williams proudly showing off her adorable daughter.The story she tells of the changes wrought on her life by the arrival of Alexis Olympia, whom she calls by her middle name and ...
Published: 01/11/18
‘Pregnancy centers’ draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

‘Pregnancy centers’ draw scrutiny as lawmakers seek to elevate their status

Annie Filkowski used to see the signs during her drive to school each morning. "Free pregnancy tests," they said.So when she feared she might be pregnant at 16, shortly after starting to have sex with her boyfriend, she remembered them. And walked in...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Analysis: St. Petersburg ranked among 'worst places to die'

Analysis: St. Petersburg ranked among 'worst places to die'

Where do you want to die? When asked, the vast majority of Americans answer with two words: "At home." Despite living in a country that delivers some of the best health care in the world, we often settle for end-of-life care that is inconsistent wit...
Published: 01/10/18
Obamacare enrollment remained strong in Florida, despite obstacles

Obamacare enrollment remained strong in Florida, despite obstacles

While health insurance sign-ups through the Affordable Care Act dipped slightly across the nation for 2018, Floridians bought plans at nearly the same levels as last year despite a much shorter enrollment period, a smaller budget for promotion and re...
Published: 01/10/18
Defending against this season’s deadly flu: 5 things to know

Defending against this season’s deadly flu: 5 things to know

The nation is having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad flu season.Flu is widespread in 46 states, according to reports to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Nationally, as of mid-December, at least 106 people had died fro...
Published: 01/09/18