Ask The Pharmacist: 8 disaster tips plus a DIY first aid kit

Suzy Cohen

We just saw the devastation by Hurricane Harvey and then monster Irma! It’s not just rain, wind and flooding that leads to a disaster, it’s also earthquakes, landslides and fires.

You just never know when severe weather will strike, you never know when you’ll have to jump in your car and evacuate or rush down into the basement for a tornado. It’s important to have a plan but I can’t say everything here in 500 words, so read the complete version which is three times longer (it’s posted on my website live right now):

Do you have a family hurricane plan?

In the meantime, this will get you started.

1. Medications: Keep a handwritten list in your wallet. Even better (if you have the time) is to stick the prescription label onto a piece of paper so all your dosing information is shown. I’d also keep the list on your smart phone. When the power goes out, pharmacies can’t access your medication profile on the computer anymore. Your list allows paramedics to give you the correct pills or shots. 

2. Ziploc with water: Fill a Ziploc bag about 75 percent full with some fresh water, then freeze it. Keep several frozen at all times. If you need to leave in a hurry grab them. While frozen, it can protect insulin, food or liquid antibiotics. As it melts, you’ll have pure water which you can drink in an emergency.

3. Portable charger: Buy a portable cell phone charger (aka power bank) and a transistor  radio, it can be hand-crank, battery operated, or even solar-powered.

4. Dishwasher storage: Your dishwasher is waterproof so if floods are anticipated, store photo albums and documents inside the dishwasher. When the water recedes, they should be perfect.

5. Loved-one list: If a rescuer wants to call your loved one or spouse to assure them of your safety and rescue, having a handwritten “Loved One List” is invaluable. Let’s face it, nobody knows phone numbers by heart anymore. 

6.  Children: I lived in Florida for 35 years, and when the hurricanes barreled through, I always made sure that my kids were pleasantly distracted with puzzles, painting, beading or “camping” in the (safer) hallway.

7.  Emergency kit: You can buy some very nice ones on Amazon or Costco, or you can create your own like this …

DIY first-aid kit

  • Analgesics like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Hydrocortisone and antibiotic ointment
  • A little blanket and a pair of socks
  • Toothpaste/brushes and deodorant
  • Small salt shaker to replenish electrolytes
  • Spare undies if you’re evacuating to a shelter
  • Eyeglasses or contacts
  • A whistle to call for help
  • Spare keys to your house/car
  • A multi-purpose knife
  • Flashlights/batteries
  • N95 or N100 mask
  • Ziplock bags and toilet paper

8.  Map - If you have to drive because of an immediate evacuation, and you can’t use GPS in your car, or your smart phone, then an actual map is a blessing. Just get in the car and drive to safety!