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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Caring for your medical needs in a disaster

Preparing to manage chronic conditions and care for your medical needs can help you stay healthy following a disaster.  It could even keep you out of the hospital.  Find out about precautions you can take before a disaster that can help you weather the storm.

  • Gather Medical Documents and Supplies:  Make sure that you have copies of your prescriptions, insurance card, immunization records and other important health information.  Always keep a 3-day supply of the medications and medical supplies that you rely on in your emergency kit.
  • Understand How Disasters Can Damage Medications:  Drugs that have been exposed to excessive heat or floodwaters may not be safe to use.  To find out what to keep and what to toss, check out the FDA guidelines for safe drug use after a natural disaster.
  • Insulin Storage and Switching:   When the power goes out, patients who rely on refrigerated insulin may have a log of questions about safe use of the product.  You might be suprised to learn that insulin products contained in vials or cartridges supplied by the manufacturers (opened or unopened) may be left unrefrigerated at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F for up to 28 days and continue to work.  However, insulin switching should always be done in consultation with a doctor.  Before a disaster strikes, diabetic patients should learn about insulin storage and switiching in an emergency.
  • Considerations for Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Patients:  Dialysis and kidney transplant patients must take special preparedness measures to ensure their own health and safety during and after disasters.  Learn about options like early dialysis before a storm and talk to your doctor about planning for an emergency.
  • Understand Medical Considerations with your Pregnancy:  If you are pregnant, make sure that you know as much as possible about your pregnancy so that you can better ask for and get the help you need when disaster strikes.  Write down the details of your medical conditions, such as any pregnancy-induced medical conditions you may have or any medications you are taking, in a pregnancy passport.  Learn about common pregnancy complications and learn how to recognize when you need medical attention.  Also, be prepared to take care of yourself.  Remember that pregnant women need extra healthy food and water - so pack those things in your emergency kit.  Also have a plan to continue prenatal care.

  • This page last reviewed: May 12, 2016