Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, flooding – natural disasters can happen anytime, anywhere. Their suddenness should not catch asthma and allergy patients off guard.
When natural disasters happen and you must evacuate, you may have only precious minutes to grab what you need for a few days, weeks, or longer. Prepare for the unexpected. Take time to put together a disaster preparedness kit and store it in an easily accessible location. Keep it in something easy to transport, such as a backpack or duffel bag.
What should your disaster preparedness include?
- Asthma Action Plan and/or Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan that lists daily and emergency medications, and when to use them. Keep to your regular medication schedule as much as possible during times of crisis.
- A supply of medications: bronchodilator inhalers and daily anti-inflammatory medications for asthma, and two epinephrine auto-injectors for anaphylaxis. Check expiration dates and get prescription refills as needed.
- Medical devices such as a nebulizer or peak flow meter – consider portable battery-operated units. Pack batteries as needed.
- Copies of medical records and refill information for prescriptions. In case you get separated from your medication, you’ll need it. You may have to pay out of pocket to replace medications not due for a refill, but do not leave a pharmacy empty-handed.
- Bottled water, allergen-free food, and cash to buy supplies.
- Face masks and goggles to cover up entry points for allergens and irritants such as smoke. They are available at most department stores.
- A resource list that includes contact information for your health care provider, pharmacy and emergency medical services.
What are some emergency management tips?
- Wear a medical ID tag or bracelet that is visible to emergency personnel.
- When dangerous weather is predicted, keep the car’s gas tank full and a spare key on a hook by the nearest door where the car is parked. There is no time to search for keys or stop for gas during an asthma, anaphylaxis or weather emergency. It’s a good idea to make sure your car is in good running condition and includes a good spare tire.
- Identify locations where you could take shelter during natural disasters, and locate medical resources there, including hospitals and pharmacies. Keep maps handy in the car to get to those locations as quickly as possible.