This has been an especially difficult year for many in terms of living through natural disasters and other emergency situations. From hurricanes and floods to wild fires and earthquakes, people all around the globe have faced the loss of their homes and possessions, ending up displaced without even the basics they need for day-to-day life. For people who are living with a chronic health problem or serious illness, these disasters can be even more difficult, as they struggle to make sure they have access to the medications and care they need.
Getting prepared before a disaster or emergency strikes can help you make sure you have the resources in place to manage your health and lower the risk of developing the complications that can occur if you’re left without essential medications or other treatments. Beyond the generally advised preparation of making sure you have at least three days’ worth of food and water per person, flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit, here are the key steps you should take well before a disaster strikes to make sure your health needs will be meet in the event of an emergency:
- Build a secure electronic medical record. Your electronic medical record should include:
- all the health conditions you’re currently being treated for
- all medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, you take with dosage and dosing instructions
- information about any surgeries or other treatments you’ve undergone for serious or chronic health conditions, for example chemotherapy for cancer or dialysis for kidney failure
- the names and contact information for all the physicians treating you
- the results of diagnostic tests and/or imaging studies
- any allergies
- your family medical history
You can access your medical records through your dedicated PinnacleCare Electronic Health Record (PEHR) or by calling either your PinnacleCare advisor, or our 24/7 member hotline at 888-776-3431. In addition, you can store your medical record online through a secure portal, via a secure app on your smartphone, or store the information on a USB drive. Be sure to password protect the information to protect your privacy.
- Make sure you have the medications and medical supplies you need. Have at least a seven day supply of any medications you take regularly and a copy of all your prescriptions in case you need to replace your medications. You should also have any medical supplies you use regularly, for example diabetes test strips or inhalers.
- Store medical equipment in a waterproof container and plan for alternate power sources. If you rely on electric or battery powered medical equipment, make sure you have a supply of extra batteries or an alternate power source, such as a generator. Have a large plastic container with a tight fitting lid that you can use to carry your equipment and protect it from water and humidity.
- Have an emergency medical evacuation plan. For disabled, seriously ill, and older people, it’s important to have an evacuation plan. Your physician or health advisor can connect you with local resources that can help you be safely moved from your home in the event of an emergency. It’s also wise to let neighbors know that there is someone in your home who will require evacuation in the event of a disaster so they can alert authorities if needed. If available, you should also alert your city or county government emergency management agency or office. Many keep lists of people with disabilities or other health problems that limit mobility so they can be helped quickly in an emergency. If you require ongoing treatment such as dialysis, know where there’s a facility in the area you plan to evacuate to and contact the facility ahead of time to find out how to get care if you’re evacuated.
Making these preparations before a disaster strikes can help you safeguard your health even under the most difficult conditions.
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