Prepare Your Health for the 2020 Hurricane Season

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Hurricane Evacuation Sign

Post updated: Aug. 10, 2020

Hurricane season may not be top of mind in this stressful time, but it is something to think about.

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 prepare for 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

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.

  • Create a family-sized emergency supplies kit and smaller “go kits” to prepare for an evacuation. In addition to personal needs, your kits should include disinfectant wipes and spray, bar or liquid soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and two masks per person age 2 and older in your household.
  • Take stock in what you may have in your pantry, cabinets, and emergency supplies kit. Review the contents of your kit if you haven’t done so in the past six months. Remove, throw away or use, and replace any perishable 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.

Prescriptions

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.

  • 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 longer) supply of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medicines.

Paperwork

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, personal care plans (e.g., asthma action plans, food allergy and anaphylaxis care plans), and emergency care plans for children with special healthcare needs.
  • Digitize hard copies and save electronic copies of important papers in a password-protected format to a flash or external hard drive or a secure cloud service. Store external drives and hard copies of important papers in a fireproof and water-resistant file organizer, container, or resealable storage bag.
  • 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. Only thirty-seven percent of respondents to a recent national survey said they could list all their medical information, including the type of prescription, the doctor who prescribed them, and the dose.(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 those with special health care needs. Find ways to show kindness toward and concern for others ahead of hurricane season.

  • Connect with 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. Offer to help run essential errands (e.g., shop for personal needs and pick-up prescriptions) for those who have mobility issues, use public transportation, or are at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Connect with older family and friends often. They may be feeling lonely, anxious, or stressed. Frequent phone calls, text messages, video chats can help you and your loved ones feel socially connected and less lonely or isolated.
  • Set a good example for others, including your neighbors. Don’t hesitate to evacuate if asked to by local authorities. Never ignore an evacuation order. Staying behind to protect your property is not worth the risk to your health and safety.

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.

  • Stay informed of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected emergency preparedness and response planning where you live. Pay attention to local guidance for evacuations and shelters. Your shelter location may be different this year because of the pandemic.
  • Plan where you and your pets 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. If your plan is to stay with friends or family in an evacuation, talk to your hosts about if and how everyone can avoid getting sick.
  • Have multiple ways to stay informed when severe weather is in the forecast. Stay tuned to local television and radio. Turn on the Wireless Emergency Alerts feature on your cellphone. Follow trusted sources of information on social media, including your state and local public health departments and emergency management agencies and your local National Weather Service Forecast Office.

Most importantly, try to be flexible during hurricane season. The COVID-19 pandemic 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. For more information on how to Prepare Your Health for hurricane season, visit https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/hurricanepreparedness/index.html.

Resources

Reference

 

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.

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2 comments on “Prepare Your Health for the 2020 Hurricane Season”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    This is a great reminder about Hurricane Season!

    Unfortunately, they come rather COVID-19 is in full effect or not. Being prepared is the best thing everything can do. As a nurse, I am used to sheltering in place for Hurricane’s and my family weathering out the storm at home. My most important tip for new nurse facing hurricane season is to be ready to ride out the storm at work; pack a bunch of scrubs, toiletries, some of your favorite snacks, and chargers for all your electronics. Another important tip is to know your flood zone, especially if you live in a low lying area. Living in a beach town, I think the CDC is spot on with their recommendations. I really appreciate the recommendation of ensuring that you have enough medication to ride out the storm and days following. Unfortunately, when a hurricane is very bad, the hard work begins when the storm is over. Hurricane’s can cause massive power shortages, which can lead to unavailability of pharmacies. I hope that this years hurricane season will be nice to us! Stay safe.

    -Best, Stefani Aliff, RN

    As a nurse, I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping a medication list that is current and updated regularly. As the post mentioned, only 40% of Americans could list their medications and dosages if asked. I have witnessed this with patients being admitted to the hospital. It’s crucial for people to know what they are taking, how much, and how often. During a disaster, the last thing you want is to have a medical emergency because you cannot keep up with your medication regimen. Knowing your medications isn’t enough to keep you prepared; maintaining an adequate supply is just as important. When you receive any long term prescription, ask your provider to write for a three month supply if allowed based on the drug class and your insurance. For essential medications, always request refills ahead of time; try not to wait for the last minute. Make sure if you are ever forced to evacuate that you bring your medication list and prescriptions with you. Anyone with chronic conditions that may require assistance should go to a designated medical shelter where trained volunteers are available to help.

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Page last reviewed: August 10, 2020
Page last updated: August 10, 2020