Medicine. Shelter. Heat. Food. Water. Transportation.
Sometimes the things you need most during a long-term disaster are often the most difficult to obtain.
Yet, as a caregiver, preparation for the effects of such a disaster is crucial to ensure you and your loved one remain safe, healthy and comfortable—whatever comes your way.
To millions of Americans who take prescription medications, their next refill is just as vital as their next meal. But what do you do when the meds aren’t just a phone call or a click away? Here are two ways to “stockpile” your prescription medications to prepare for a disaster:
- Early refills: The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy allows pharmacists to refill a non-controlled medication seven days before a 30-day supply runs out, and 21 days before a 90-day supply runs out. So, if you refill these prescriptions early every month, it will only take you six months to accumulate an extra six-week supply, and one year to accumulate an extra three-month supply. However, check with your pharmacy and insurance, as sometimes restrictions apply.
- Pay for extra prescriptions: Another way to stockpile medications is to pay for extra prescriptions. Ask your provider to write a backup prescription that can be used in the case of an emergency. Your insurance plan may not pay for it, but discount drug programs can be a feasible and affordable option. Also, it’s worth a try to call your insurance company to inquire about getting an extra refill covered; some health plans have an “emergency exception” for such refills.
Shelter, warmth and light
Shelter, warmth and light are vital during a long-term emergency when you lose access to power, food or water. Take an inventory of your home or your loved one’s home to ensure access to some important items that will allow you to maintain shelter, warmth and light during a long-term power outage.
Portable generator – A portable generator keeps essential appliances such as the refrigerator, furnace and medical equipment going, as well as gadgets including computers, phones and TVs to provide emergency contact while you hunker down.
Surge protector – During power outages, it’s common for the power grid to blink on and off—meaning the voltage is dropping or surging during this time. A surge protector protects your appliances and electronics from the havoc this yo-yo effect can render.
Uninterruptible power supply – Think of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) as a surge protector “generator,” or surge protector with a built-in battery backup. A good UPS can keep your computer going for a few minutes after the power goes out, leaving you precious time to safely save your work and shut off your computer.
Power bank – A good power bank can extend the life of a phone and sometimes a laptop (depending on the model), bringing vital news or services in an emergency during an outage.
Other must-have items :
And don’t forget that an old-fashioned fire is always a reliable way to stay warm. These lighters and fire starters make starting a fire safe and easy—just don’t forget to include a fire extinguisher.
Disaster experts recommend a minimum gathering of nonperishable food and water for an emergency survival kit: at least three days’ worth of food per person in the household and one gallon of bottled water per person per day for three days.
Prepare vehicles ahead of time
Have a plan in place for if you need to evacuate, and have your car ready to go before the disaster strikes.
Start with packing an emergency kit into your car. This kit should include a standard tool kit, car jack, a lug wrench, jumper cables and a flashlight. Also, always include a cell phone charger that can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter somewhere in the car.
- Safeguard important documents: Make sure you have protected critical documents in case of a long-term disaster—maybe a safety deposit box, an external drive or on the cloud. Better yet, make copies and store them in a waterproof, portable container.
- Stock up on personal care and hygiene: Depending on your needs, you may also need to include things like spare contacts, emergency spare eyeglasses, contact lens solution, contact cases and eye drops. Also, if you have small children, diapers, baby wipes and other baby care items are essential.
- Stock up on pet care: Stock up on at least one month of pet food and any pet medications.
- Entertainment: Stock up on books, board games, cards, art supplies, writing supplies and other things to keep you and your companions busy.
Disaster readiness is a constantly evolving front. As such, new technologies, ideas and recommendations are released on a continuous basis, especially in light of recent current events. The FEMA app (Android/iOS) and American Red Cross app (Android/iOS) are easy ways to stay connected with the latest updates in your area.