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 | 2 months ago

Are You Medically Prepared for a Hurricane?

It's a good time to ask yourself; are you medically prepared if unpredictable weather disrupts your daily life?

For those who are not directly impacted by Hurricane Ian, it’s a good time to ask yourself – are you medically prepared if unpredictable weather disrupts your daily life? 

Although Hurricane Ian isn’t directly impacting our area yet, it’s a good time to review your plans. Are you medically ready in the event you are impacted by unpredictable weather patterns? Dr. Chris Branner, specialty medical director, Urgent Care Services at Atrium Health, offers helpful medical tips to prepare you and your family in case of a natural disaster emergency.

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). You can also access your patient records online and through the MyAtriumHealth app at the Apple Store or on Google Play. Make sure to know your username and password to your patient portal in order to access your patient information.

"Of course, each family is different and has individual needs," Branner says. "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, it’s a bad idea to place medicine in a glove compartment in a parked car when it is hot outside. This can make some medicines not work correctly.

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, Branner says. If you are unsure of the medications, you currently take, ask your pharmacist to provide you with an updated list.

If you need 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," says Branner. “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

If symptoms are life-threatening, such as chest pain or trouble breathing, seek immediate help. If you suffer a non-life-threatening illness or injury, you can schedule an urgent care reservation online at one of more than 30 urgent care locations. For less severe conditions, urgent care video visits are available 24/7 through MyAtriumHealth or on the MyAtriumHealth app.

For serious medical emergencies, Atrium Health’s emergency rooms are open 24/7. If you are experiencing a life-threatening condition, call 911 right away.

If you evacuate, 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 Red Cross chapter or find a shelter near you.