Healthcare Workers

Preparing for a Hurricane

Government forecasters expect up to six major hurricanes for the Atlantic storm season which began on June 1. The effects of hurricanes range from mildly annoying to utterly devastating. While many government and nonprofit sites have excellent general preparedness advice, there are certain things that are only applicable to specific populations. Use your connection to these populations to reinforce the need for people to prepare for the specifics of their own circumstances.


General information about having medication on hand during an emergency is standard. But what does this mean for your patient? Patients who have life-threatening illnesses that are maintained through medicine, such as diabetes, need to ensure they do not run out of their medications during a disaster. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will only pay for one month at a time. If a disaster were to strike at the end of a month, a patient may only have a few days of medicine remaining. Suggest patients requests three-month prescriptions, which most insurance companies will fill, to keep necessary medications on hand. Also, provide a list of over the counter medications and other first aid kit items that are recommended by the government for disaster preparations.


As a special education teacher, it is important that you discuss maintaining records with the parents of your students. Each parent receives copies of evaluations and individualized education plans as they are prepared. Remind parents that in the unlikely event that a school was completely destroyed during a hurricane, it would be beneficial for the parent to have a record of the most recent test results and accommodations the child has been given. After Katrina, many schools were completely unusable for months and families were forced to relocate. The new schools were often unable to obtain previous records and parents who had access to their own copies found it much easier to transition their special needs child into a new environment.


Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and counselors all play an important role in the lives of their patients. Remember that if a hurricane strikes, you may not be able to provide services to your clients for weeks. Give them copies of all new regimens along with any new evaluations for their own records and encourage them to keep their copies with their other important paperwork they would take with them if they were to evacuate. This will help them continue with their or therapy, or receive continuing therapy in a new location, should they be unable to see you for an extended period of time.

What would you recommend your clients or patients do to prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster?

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