Prepare Now for Hurricane Season
One of the great things about living in and around Delray Beach is the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. That proximity, however, can spell disaster if a hurricane comes onshore.
Because this week has been designated National Hurricane Preparedness week, our family practice doctors at Cohen Associates in Delray Beach want to share with you some steps you can take now to be prepared for hurricane season, which starts June 1 and ends November 30. And be aware that hurricanes can also occur outside that window.
The following tips were compiled from the American Red Cross, the National Hurricane Center, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Before the storm
- Be sure you have a 30-day supply of your medications—both prescription and non-prescription—on hand before the storm hits. See us if you need refills of any drugs you may be taking.
- If your medications need to be refrigerated, talk to us about how to keep them properly stored if your power goes out.
- If you are on dialysis, talk to the doctors or staff at the dialysis center about where to go after the storm.
- If you use medical devices such as ventilators or oxygen concentrators, be sure the batteries are fully charged and know where to go if the battery doesn’t work.
- If you are on a special diet, be sure to have enough food available to last at least a week. And have enough bottled water available for everyone in the household to prevent dehydration. The rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day.
- If you have service animals or pets, make sure they have enough water, food, and any medications for them to last at least 10 days after the storm.
- If power goes out, hand sanitizers and hand wipes will be critical. Be sure to have plenty available.
- Make sure to take all your medical paperwork with you if you evacuate: list of current medications, list of drug allergies, insurance cards, and contact numbers for your physicians.
- If you haven’t had a tetanus vaccine in the past 10 years, see us now to be inoculated. During after-storm cleanup, tetanus bacteria can infect you with even a minor cut or scratch.
During the storm
- If you are in an evacuation shelter, cleanliness is paramount to prevent the spread of illnesses. Wash with soap and water frequently. Use hand sanitizers and wipes as much as possible.
- Try to keep insulin as cool as possible, away from direct heat, and out of direct sunlight. If using ice, avoid freezing the insulin.
After the storm
- Avoid floodwaters if at all possible. They are filled with such contaminants as oil and gas, household chemicals, and sewage, not to mention frightened snakes, alligators, and floating fire ant rafts.
- If you’re using a generator to maintain power, be sure it’s far enough away from the house to prevent carbon monoxide seeping into the home.
- Do not eat any food or water that may have come into contact with flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
- If lifesaving drugs have been exposed to floodwaters, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that if the container is contaminated but the contents appear unaffected (i.e., the pills are dry), they may be used until replacements are available. Other types of drugs or drug products such as inhalers, oral liquids, drugs for injections, and so forth, should be discarded if they have come in contact with contaminated water.
- Insulin loses its potency according to the temperature it is exposed to and length of the exposure. Under emergency conditions, you might still need to use insulin that has been stored above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. When a fresh supply becomes available, discard any questionable insulin remaining.
- Take care during cleanup. Be aware when cutting downed trees that they may have been twisted by the hurricane’s winds or embedded tornadoes. People have died when they cut loose a limb which then freed the torqued trees beneath, causing the chainsaw to lash back on them. Also be aware of downed power lines.
If you have any questions about medical aspects of hurricane preparation, contact us.