As you prepare or update your family’s emergency kit, health-related supplies and medications should be a major focus.
“It’s a good idea to take inventory before storm season, in case you are unable to access the pharmacy during inclement weather,” says Melissa Levy, Head Pharmacist for the Bermuda Diabetes Association and Past President of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.
To avoid a situation where you’re missing important medicines or accessories, plan ahead with the following items:
Although these products are available without a prescription, it is important to read the package carefully for age requirements and dosage instructions. Levy suggests having these common non-prescription medications on hand:
- Ibuprofen (Advil), for acute pain and inflammation
- Acetominophen (Tylenol), for pain and fever
- Antacids, for indigestion
- Antihistamines, to manage allergy symptoms
- Glucose tablets, for diabetes
- Any vitamins you take regularly
Because there are so many variations of over-the-counter medications, it is recommended to always keep them in their original containers to avoid confusion.
“Once a hurricane watch is announced, check your prescription medication to ensure you have an adequate supply, ideally for seven to 14 days,” Levy suggests. “If you have enough medication for two weeks or more, you’re all set. However, if you have less than a week’s supply, contact your pharmacy right away.”
Organizing your prescription refill schedule is a wise move at any time of the year, not just during storm season. By being proactive, you will avoid stressful pitfalls such as having no refills remaining, discovering your prescription has expired or encountering a back-order of the medication at the pharmacy. “It is never advisable to wait until the last day, so mark your calendar or set a smartphone reminder for at least a week in advance,” Levy suggests.
Patients with multiple medications can use additional strategies to keep things coordinated. “Ask your pharmacist to align your refills to a similar timeline, and inquire if blister packaging service is available,” Levy says. “Grouping each day’s medications together encourages compliance and makes it easier to monitor the amount remaining.”
Supplies and accessories
Your medical kit should be personalized based on each family member’s individual needs. This might include epi-pens, blood sugar monitoring devices, syringes and hearing aid batteries. If any medications require refrigeration, make sure you have ice packs and a cooler on hand so you can maintain the required temperature during a power outage.
Personal medical profiles
Levy suggests keeping a detailed list of medical information for each family member, including allergies, medications, doctor and pharmacy contact information and insurance numbers. Store the documents in an airtight waterproof bag.
When selecting or managing medications, remember that your pharmacist is a valuable resource. With their expert advice and a little advance planning, you can be confident that you’re keeping tabs on your tablets this storm season.
Out with the old
This is a good time of year to clean out your medicine cabinet and remove any products that are past their expiry date. “Typically, expired medications will not be harmful, but very often they will not be effective,” says pharmacist Melissa Levy. Instead of throwing expired products in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, inquire at your local pharmacy about safer disposal options.