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Emergencies & Your Health: Medically-vulnerable people

Contact information & medical records

Make an up-to-date record of everyone's medications (both prescriptions and any over the counter ones, too), plus health insurance information (including ID numbers) and contact information for key medical personnel.

Don't forget IDs or chip details for pets or service animals.

Have this ready to hand, along with contact information for family and other important people.

Most smartphones also allow you to enter your emergency information in a section that can be accessed by first responders (without getting into your other personal information).

Even if you do enter emergency information into a smartphone, it's also a very good idea to include the same information on paper (paper can be read even when batteries are run down).

Listos California offers pre-made Disaster Ready Cards:

Medications and medical devices

Calculate how many days' worth of medications are already in-hand, and make sure there are enough doses for at least a week. If there aren't enough doses of prescription drugs to last that long, arrange to get renewals in advance if at all possible. Don't forget over the counter medications that may be needed to stay clean and comfortable.

Plan for how to keep medications at the right temperatures in a power outage or evacuation situation (using a cooler pack for insulin; or in very low temperatures, using insulation for drugs that should not freeze).

In a pinch, this map application will show pharmacies (and hospitals, urgent care centers, etc.) open during a public emergency:

 

People who need medical devices (hearing aids, portable oxygen, nebulizers, powered wheelchairs, CPAP, home dialysis, etc.) should make a plan for when the power goes out.  See the page in this guide for Power Outages for What about medical electrical devices?.

Advice for older adults & their caregivers

Medical conditions, diseases, or concerns

 

Advice for specific diseases, conditions, or concerns:  

Anemia or hemophilia 

 

Asthma, COPD, and other breathing disorders

 

Cancer

 

Dementia, including Alzheimers

 

Developmental disabilities

 

Diabetes

 

Kidney disease

 

Mental Illness

Disasters can be rough on everyone's mental health (although people can be remarkably resilient, too). But some disasters can make a pre-existing mental illness worse, and/or harder to respond to the emergency. The National Rehabilitation Information Center offers this emergency preparedness advice to people with psychiatric disabilities:

  • Create an individualized preparedness plan that meets your specific needs. Include support staff and personal support networks in any emergency preparedness plan you create. Some individuals may benefit from occasional practice of evacuation routes and emergency drills, while others may find this stressful.
  • Ensure you have enough medication to last through an event and that it is stored appropriately. Medication holders and medication reminder products can be helpful. Don’t forget to include dosage information.
  • Therapeutic aids such as weighted blankets, headphones, or other audio sensory integration aids may help reduce loud noises and assist in staying calm during an emergency and/or evacuation. A sensory first aid kit can provide comfort for some people, specifically those with sensory sensitivities, during emergencies.

It may be useful to have this 24/7  helpline contact on-hand, in case assistance is needed:

 

Pregnancy or newborn child

 

Physical disabilities (mobility-, hearing-, or vision-impaired)

When talking with emergency staff, EMTs, or First Responders, they may ask about "access and functional needs" - that's a catch-all phrase for the kinds of issues or disabilities that may make it harder for someone to move, to react, or to respond to a problem.

Be sure to include service animals' needs in your emergency plan!

Not everyone can be as self-sufficient or as prepared as this family - but with some forethought and creativity, maybe you can find your own solutions!

The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators / copyright holders.