HOUSTON – As we look at all the hurricane preps you need to do this week, an important thing to remember is you will need a week’s worth of medication.
PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC CONDITIONS
Immediately get medications into a waterproof container:
A Ziplock bag is a good start, but it may not be enough in case you have to evacuate in a high-water situation. Try to double bag important prescriptions and documents or seal them inside a waterproof box to ensure they remain safe and dry.
Dry boxes are sold in various sizes at places where they sell boating, hunting, snorkeling or camera equipment.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU LOSE POWER WHEN YOU DEPEND ON MEDICAL DEVICES
Dr. Donald Molony, nephrologist with Memorial Hermann and UT Health, said if your home loses power, it’s best to have a plan for moving medical devices or refrigerated prescriptions to a place with power as soon as possible.
For people on dialysis, he said to be in contact with your dialysis clinic or social worker Monday or Tuesday this week. They will be giving you important information specific to your condition and let you know where to go for treatment if your facility closes.
DIALYSIS PATIENTS NEED TO SAVE THIS INFORMATION
Patients may have questions like: What to do if a dialysis facility closes? What happens if I can’t get transportation? What happens if the roads are closed? How can I get supplies during a storm?
For help, the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) is available by phone 24/7 to answer your questions regarding kidney conditions and emergency events. Contact the KCER Helpline 866-901-3773.
Here is a list of their recommendations: https://www.kcercoalition.com/contentassets/3cfb4cf6139d4666963124f63f33ba1d/cms_preparing-for-emergencies_2017update_revfinal_508.pdf
The End-Stage Renal Disease Network of Texas also has helpful links: https://www.esrdnetwork.org/disaster-planning
PATIENTS WITH SPECIAL DIETS IN THE EVENT OF A STORM SHOULD HAVE THIS
Memorial Hermann recommends planning ahead if you are on a special diet.
People with special diets will need to have foods that are safe for them, even with the threat of a storm.
Here is a list of non-perishable food items that are low in sugar and syrups:
- Packaged tuna
- Jerky (beef, pork salmon, chicken)
- Dried fruits
- Canned vegetables
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR MEDICATIONS GET WET, ACCORDING TO THE FDA
- Drugs exposed to flood or unsafe municipal water may become contaminated. This contamination may lead to serious health effects. Drugs exposed to unsafe water should be replaced as soon as possible.
- Drugs — even those in their original containers with screw-top caps, snap lids, or droppers — should be discarded if they came into contact with flood or contaminated water. In addition, medicines placed in other storage containers should be discarded if the medicines came in contact with flood or contaminated water.
- If a drug is needed to treat a life-threatening condition, but a replacement may not be readily available, if the drug looks unchanged - for example, pills in a wet container appear dry - the drugs can be used until a replacement is available. If the pills are wet, then they are contaminated and need to be discarded.
Insulin storage in an emergency
- It is recommended that insulin be stored in a refrigerator at approximately 36°F to 46°F. Unopened and stored in this manner, these products maintain potency until the expiration date on the package.
- Insulin products contained in vials or cartridges supplied by the manufacturers (opened or unopened) may be left unrefrigerated at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F for up to 28 days.
- Insulin loses some effectiveness when exposed to extreme temperatures. The longer the exposure to extreme temperatures, the less effective the insulin becomes. This can result in loss of blood glucose control over time. Under emergency conditions, you still may need to use the insulin that has been stored above 86°F.
- You should try to keep insulin as cool as possible. If you are using ice, avoid freezing the insulin. Do not use insulin that has been frozen. Keep insulin away from direct heat and out of direct sunlight.
- When properly stored insulin becomes available again, the insulin vials that have been exposed to these extreme conditions should be discarded and replaced as soon as possible.
For more information see Information Regarding Insulin Storage and Switching Between Products in an Emergency (en Español).
- Keep your device and supplies clean and dry.
- If you depend on your device to keep you alive, seek emergency services immediately. If possible, notify your local Public Health Authority to request evacuation prior to adverse weather events.
- If you have a device that depends on electricity, you should know how to maintain function in the event of a loss of power
For more information, FDA Offers Tips about Medical Devices and Hurricane Disasters.
COVID-19 WILL NOT BE TAKING A BREAK BECAUSE OF THE STORMS
According to Baylor College of Medicine, families who need to shelter with other families or friends should follow these precautions:
- Be sure that everyone has a mask and keep extras on hand
- Maintain social distancing as much as possible if new individuals are entering the household
- Practice good hand hygiene – wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer
- Other supplies to have on hand: thermometer, medications, tissues, cleaning supplies and hand soap