As a survivor of the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, a couple of lessons were learned that were never thought of previously. I was without power for 7 days and roughed it a little bit. We all know the basics need to be maintained such as stocking up on batteries, flashlights, non-perishable foods, gasoline and water. A lot of people forgot about the other important factor which is their medications (prescription drugs).
If you are on any medication and need to rush out the door, those drugs are usually one of the last things on your mind. Chances are you saved you financial documents and pets before your prescription drugs. The best case scenario is that you refilled your medications prior to the storm or at least have over one week’s worth of prescription drugs.
When the power goes out, forgetting your medication can be life threatening. First responders might not be able to get to you in time during a hurricane or nor’easter since roads will be blocked and other important calls will take precedent. If help does get to you, the hospital might be on emergency power. Now do you really want to take a chance like that?
The best thing you can do prior to a major storm (we had plenty of warning) is to prepare a small bag such as a fanny pack and place your prescription drugs inside of it along with cash (~$200 in small bills) and any other important documents. This way, you can grab and go and not worry about whether you forgot something.
Now, if you hunker down in your home, Place all you medication near a light source so you can see what you are taking. Attempt to continue with your medicine schedule but with no power your sleep schedule might throw you off by a couple of hours. That is still OK.
Refrigerated Prescription Drugs
If the power is out and your medication needs refrigeration, there are a couple of tricks in place that can assist you. First, place the medication in a plastic bag and place it into as cooler with ice. You never want to place it directly into water or ice since the label will get wet and come off. Then you can’t tell which prescription pill is which. If no cooler with ice is available, place it in the freezer in-between frozen chicken or meat. Even if no power is available, meat takes a long time to defrost so you can save your medication but not your meat.
Depending on the season (hopefully fall/winter), you can always get a cooler or insulated pot and fill it half way with water. Place it outside (porch/balcony) at night when it gets cold. Keep the medication in a sealed bag and place it in the water. The water will get cold and act like refrigeration. If it stays cold enough, you can leave it out during the day in a shaded place. If not, place it in the refrigerator which is an insulated box until the next night. This process might help you for a few days.
Pharmacies with no power
This is the hardest part. When the power is out everywhere, electronics are useless. That means no credit cards, no electronic records, no phones and no registers. Then it becomes a cash society. Remember, I told you to have cash in a pack? New prescriptions will be hard to fill but refills are easy and always ask for a receipt. They may charge you full price until the power comes back in which case you can get a refund. This is better than not having medication. Like the boy scouts say: “Be Prepared”.
Do you have any other tips?