When most of us think of non-medical emergencies, we picture natural disasters and the destruction they cause or technological and accidental hazards like nuclear power plant failures. Being prepared for these kinds of situations often gives us some feeling of control and comfort, however most people rarely deliberate the medical considerations of these non-medical emergencies. How can we prepare medically for non-medical emergencies before they occur? We have narrowed it down to five essential ways to prepare yourself to handle your medical concerns during an emergency.
1. Insurance and Medical Records
Because natural, technological, and accidental disasters have the potential to create power shortages, it is important to have all critical medical information easily accessible. You cannot always rely on technology to retrieve your medical information. While a complete copy of your medical records is not necessary, it would be wise to have copies of pertinent medical information. This could range from past surgeries to chronic conditions. Anything that could affect the type of care you need in an emergency situation should be in the records. It is also essential that you have a copy of your health insurance card.
2. Contact List
You should provide both local and out of town contacts on your contact list. The reason you identify an out of town contact is so family members or authorities have someone to notify about your safety and whereabouts. An out of town contact is important because your family may not be together in an emergency. Your contact list should also include your medical providers’ names, contact information, and the reason why you see them.
3. Medications and Allergy List
When creating this list, catalog the names of medications you take, the dosage, the prescribing doctor, and the medical condition the prescriptions address. The latter is important because one medication could have multiple purposes. Also, remember to record any allergies or sensitivities you have. If you have severe reactions, then an ID bracelet may be useful. In the event of a non-medical emergency, this list could prove very useful to a caregiver or emergency responder who needs to treat you.
If a non-medical emergency like a natural disaster is particularly destructive, then transportation may be temporarily immobilized. This would make it difficult to get prescriptions refilled, which could prove problematic for people with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or anemia. Emory Healthcare’s Dr. Jerard Cranman recommends keeping a 7-10 day supply of your prescription medication on hand in case of emergencies. You may also want to contact your physician in advance to discuss the possibility of getting a vacation override addition to your prescription, which may help tide you over in a crisis. Be sure to keep all your prescriptions in their original labeled bottles. Rotate medications in your emergency supply on a regular basis so that they do not expire. Also, keep spare flashlights and extra batteries on hand in order to be able to read prescription labels if the electricity goes out.
5. Home Care Equipment
First, if you have any special equipment that you use to maintain your health, be sure to laminate instructions and attach them to the machinery. If the medical equipment is a necessity and it requires electricity, then it might make sense for you to purchase a generator. This would make it more likely that you would still be able to address your health needs during a power shortage. Also, if any medication has to be refrigerated, be sure you have a reliable cooler.
Readying ourselves for a non-medical emergency requires more than making sure we have flashlights, a weather radio, and a first aid kit. Most plans people develop do not include medical considerations. We all need to have our crucial medical information on hand to ensure proper medical treatment in the event of a non-medical emergency.