Hurricane Florence is taking dead aim at the Carolinas. Are you medically ready in the event that a catastrophic storm will hit our area? Chris Branner, MD, Specialty Medical Director, Urgent Care Services at Atrium Health, offers tips to prepare you and your family in case of a natural disaster emergency.

News, Your Health | one month ago

Are you Medically Prepared for a Hurricane?

Hurricane Florence is taking dead aim at the Carolinas. Are you medically ready in the event that a catastrophic storm will hit our area? Chris Branner, MD, Specialty Medical Director, Urgent Care Services at Atrium Health, offers tips to prepare you and your family in case of a natural disaster emergency.

Living in the Carolinas and along the East Coast means the threat of a major storm making landfall in our region is a real threat. In a matter of days, we may be asked to evacuate our homes in order to seek a safer place to ride out the storm.

Chris Branner, MD, MPH, FAAP, Specialty Medical Director, Urgent Care Services at Atrium Health, provides some helpful medical tips of what you can do to prepare yourself and your family in the event that you would need to leave in a hurry.

Get Ready Now

Make sure to have the following items ready in your emergency medical kit in preparation of a hurricane:

  • Medications for at least one week (two if possible) and copies of prescriptions
  • Extra eyeglasses/contact lenses
  • Medical equipment/assistive technology and backup batteries
  • Specialty foods for those on restricted diets
  • First aid kit
  • Medical insurance cards
  • A copy of your medical records (Either printed out or electronic records copied to a USB drive). Make sure to know your username and password to your patient portal, such as MyAtriumHealth. You can also download the Carolinas HealthCare System app (where you can access your MyAtriumHealth account) at the Apple Store or on Google Play.

"Of course, each family is different and has individual needs," Dr. Branner said. "Make sure to tailor your preparation list to accommodate any specific needs your family might have."

If you do plan on travelling, make sure you don’t leave medications in locations vulnerable to extremely hot or cold conditions. For example, placing medicine in a glove compartment in a parked car when it’s hot outside could affect its integrity.

Have a Plan

Also, make sure to have a list with up-to-date phone numbers of your doctors, pharmacy, case manager, peer mentor, service provider and local medical facilities, Dr. Branner says. If you’re unsure of the medications you are currently taking, ask your pharmacist to provide you with an updated list.

If you have to leave the area, ask your pharmacy if they are linked with any other pharmacies and get contact information for the other locations. And if you’re worried about running out of medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to come up with a plan for how to obtain a refill.

For those who are managing chronic medical conditions such as heart or kidney disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, the last thing you want to be worried about is whether you have enough medication.

"If you know someone that may need some medical assistance while preparing for a storm, please help them if you can," Dr. Branner said "These are our most vulnerable populations and rely more heavily on medications and medical devices than the general population. Help your neighbors if it’s safe and you can."

Know How to Get Help

For serious medical emergencies, Atrium Health’s emergency rooms are open 24/7 and staffed by providers board-certified in emergency medicine. If you are experiencing a life-threatening condition, call 911 right away.

Additionally, Atrium Health has an emergency department dedicated to children, providing access to specialized pediatric care in a family-friendly environment. If you need to reach the Children’s Emergency Department directly, call 704-446-KIDS (5437). If your child has come into contact with or swallowed a poisonous substance, call the Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

If you have suffered an unexpected illness or injury, you can schedule an Urgent Care reservation online. See our other virtual care options.

If you’re evacuating, make sure you have a plan and you let your family and friends know where you’re going. If you are in need of food, water or shelter, please contact your local chapter or find a shelter near you.