Prepare Your Health for the 2020 Hurricane SeasonPosted on by
May 3 to 9, 2020, is Hurricane Preparedness Week.
Hurricane season may not be top of mind in this stressful time, but it is something to think about. The 2020 hurricane season waits for no one and no virus. The Eastern Pacific season begins on May 15, and the Atlantic and Central Pacific seasons begin on June 1.
Although it may feel like there is not much you can control these days, there are actions you can take while protecting yourself and others from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to have peace of mind headed into hurricane season.
Gather Disaster Supplies
You are the best person to prepare your family for a disaster because only you understand the unique health and health care needs of the entire family, including pets.
Personal needs are the items that you cannot do without in an emergency—necessities, items, supplies, equipment, and tools that you need to protect your physical, mental, and emotional health and safety in an emergency. Every person in a family has different personal needs.
- Take stock in what you may have in your pantry, cabinets, and emergency supplies Review the contents of your kit if you haven’t done so in the past six months. Remove, use, or replace any food and water, prescription medications, and supplies before they expire.
- Thinking about a trip to the store? Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to prepare and protect your health and others’ when running essential errands.
- Shop responsibly for disaster supplies. Buy what your family needs and leave some—especially hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and sprays—for others. Given the current shortage of N95 respirators, it’s also important that we save these supplies for healthcare workers and first responders. Instead, learn how to make a cloth face covering from a t-shirt, scarf, or cloth napkin. Make at least two cloth face coverings per person, so that you can wear one while the other is dirty. Children under 2 years old and people who are having trouble breathing should not wear a face covering.
It could be difficult to fill prescriptions after a large-scale disaster, such as a hurricane. That’s why it is so important that you take action to prepare and protect the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins you need before hurricane season.
- Protect yourself and others when filling prescriptions by limiting in-person visits to the pharmacy. Sign up for mail order delivery or call-in your prescription ahead of time and use drive-thru windows or curbside pickup if available.
- Some states have emergency prescription refill laws that authorize pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense early refills of certain medications when under an emergency declaration. Contact your state health department or board of pharmacy or talk to your pharmacist to learn more about the law where you live.
- Pet owners: Work with your veterinarian to prepare an emergency supply of medications, and a one-month (or larger) supply of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medicines.
Paperwork includes any important documents and personal data. Collect and protect insurance documents, personal identification, and emergency action plans to prepare for an evacuation during hurricane season.
- Organize your important paperwork, including personal identification and personal care plans, including asthma action plans, food allergy and anaphylaxis care plans, and emergency care plan for children with special healthcare needs.
- Proofread your important paperwork, including medical records and care plans, for errors and missing or unclear information that could cause misunderstanding or affect your healthcare.
- Make an up-to-date list of all prescription medications and necessary medical supplies. Write down dosing instructions, the names of generic equivalents, and known allergies. A national survey found that only 40 percent of Americans could list all their prescription details if they were forced to evacuate their homes.(1)
Help Your Neighbor
Communities with people who are regularly involved in each other’s lives through volunteerism, for example, are often better prepared individually and able to support their neighbors, including populations with special needs. Find ways to show kindness toward and concern for others ahead of hurricane season.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors to make sure they have enough supplies. When doing so, follow the latest CDC guidance to protect yourself and others from COVID-19; for example, stay at least six feet away, wear a cloth face covering, and cover coughs and sneezes. Offer to help gather disaster supplies (e.g., shop for personal needs and pick-up prescriptions) for those who have mobility issues, use public transportation, are sick but recovering at home, or are at higher risk for severe illness.
- Offer to be a “second pair of eyes” for older adults, including family, friends, and neighbors, who may find it difficult to proofread or understand their important paperwork, including insurance documents and care plans, and health guidelines.
- Helping others cope with their anxiety and stress can make your community stronger. Lend an ear to family, friends, and neighbors who may need someone to talk to about their feelings. Many people already feel fear and anxiety about COVID-19. The threat of a hurricane can add additional stress.
Complete an Emergency Action Plan
More than a collection of names and phone numbers, an emergency action plan is your user guide for how to stay healthy, informed, calm, and connected in a disaster. Below are some of the simple things you can do to prepare for hurricane season.
- Plan where you and your animals will stay in case you need to evacuate your home. Identify shelters, a pet-friendly hotel, or the home of an out-of-town friend or relative where you can physically distance with your pets to the best of your ability.
- Try to be flexible. The COVID-19 outbreak is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. State, local, and individual hurricane preparedness and response plans may need to change as CDC learns more about the virus and issues new guidance.
- Stay informed of the latest health guidance from CDC, disaster shelter information from state and local authorities, and severe weather watches and warnings from the National Weather Service. Your regular shelter may not be available this year because of the outbreak.
Click here for more tips on how you and your family can Prepare Your Health for hurricane season this year.
Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.
Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.
- Page last reviewed:May 7, 2020
- Page last updated:May 7, 2020
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