Stocking up for a major storm or hurricane should go beyond the obvious bottled water, batteries and nonperishable pantry items. Now is the time to put your medical tool kit together, particularly if you have special health care needs.
Special needs shelters
If you use oxygen, have a medical condition dependent on electricity, need assistance managing a medical condition or are disabled, now is the time to register with your county to reserve a space in a special needs shelter.
"It's the best deal in town," says Dan Fulcher, operation chief and emergency planner for Hillsborough County. "We come and pick you up and return you home after the storm at no cost to you.''
Prescriptions and medical devices
Think carefully about all the drugs and other items you need to manage your health. Here's a checklist to start; ask your doctor for more guidance:
- Three-day supply (minimum) of all prescription medications.
- Separate list of all prescription medications with dose, schedule, doctors' names, doctors' phone numbers and pharmacy phone numbers stored in zip-top bag.
- Small cooler and cold packs for medication that requires refrigeration.
- Extra plastic zip-top bags to keep everything protected and dry.
- At least a three-day supply of all that's required to manage diabetes, asthma, COPD, C-PAP, and other chronic health conditions including wires, cables, tubing, chargers, adaptors and nebulizers.
- Mobility equipment such as a wheelchair, walker or cane. If using a motorized scooter, have a regular wheelchair available in case batteries can't be recharged.
Medical supplies everyone needs
Even those with normally great health can face problems like cuts, rashes, bug bites and stomach ailments in the aftermath of a storm. Take this handy list along as you shop for your hurricane disaster kit. Most items are available in drug, discount and grocery stores:
- 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, pre-cut 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.
- 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 care items
Think of all 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.
- Disposable gloves and rubber gloves for heavy duty cleaning.
- Paper towels.
- Wash basin.
- Tampons, sanitary napkins.
- Pet medications and food.
- Bottled water, 1 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 like milk, eggs, meats, and leftovers and anything marked "must be refrigerated."
- Heavy duty plastic trash bags in case garbage collection is interrupted.
- Variety of water-tight plastic storage containers, some for food.
- Large coolers.
- Household bug spray.
Personal comfort items that you may want to take to a shelter:
- Folding lounge-style beach chairs for sleeping, in case there's a shortage of cots; pillows; blankets; games; playing cards; small battery operated book light; eye mask for sleeping; battery operated MP-3 player or radio with ear buds.