I packed a bag to flee the premises when I heard about the latest brushfire in the Bosque. I grabbed a roomy overnight bag and started to fill it with our medicines and medical devices–our traveling CPAP machines, the various pills and potions that keep us healthy, masks and allergy meds for the dog. The bag was brimming–but there was no room for water, food or comfortable clothing.
We asked Dr. Jaren Trost, director of primary care at Optum, to help us prepare for an evacuation.
The very first thing, said Dr. Trost, is to tend to emergency food and water supplies. “It’s not just medicines. You have to think about food and water first, especially if someone is pregnant or you have an infant. Having a stash of canned foods is a good thing, along with batteries and first aid items. Those are things you can keep on hand until you need them.”
As for medicines, Dr. Trost said, “Know your medical situation. EpiPens, inhalers for asthma, blood sugar monitors, insulin and needles: anything you use daily has to go with you if you are leaving in an emergency. Make sure everything is up to date.”
Your primary physician is a good source of information for what you might need, even if the emergency keeps you at home, like the COVID-19 pandemic. He/she can help you with a list of your necessary medical supplies. “If a lot of your meds must be refrigerated, you’ll need to have a portable cold container on hand,” he said.
Dr. Trost also cautioned that a first-aid kit is a must have. The primary things to pack in it are Steri-Strips or Band-Aids, antibiotic ointments, gloves and tweezers. “If you get a bite or a splinter, for instance, you can prevent a downstream reaction on the spot,” he said.
Bring your children into the family’s preparedness for an emergency. They can be in charge of batteries and flashlights, for example, or supplies for pets. Kids are really good at admonishing parents to remember certain items (“Don’t forget the hand sanitizer!” “Where’s the Snapple Apple?”).
Not all emergencies cause evacuations. In a chemical disaster, authorities might tell residents to remain at home. Droughts and longterm power outages can be dangerous for people who must stay inside and can’t get to food and water supplies.
“Make time to sit down and make a plan as a family. Know your medical situations and make lists,” said Dr. Trost. Pack extra medications beforehand so you know you’ve got them with you. Remember special equipment for infants, the elderly and the disabled.
If you have to leave your home, most likely you’ll be taking your phone and laptop; don’t forget the chargers and cords. It’s a good idea to take bedding and some extra clothing, too, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Leashes, collars, harnesses, carriers and disposable litter boxes go along with pets. They also suggest practicing a ten-minute evacuation plan in advance.
And don’t forget your eyeglasses.
Interview by Stephanie Hainsfurther, Managing Editor.