Having a chronic disease like lupus requires special considerations. Especially, when you’re considering emergency preparedness essentials with lupus.
Honestly, being prepared for an emergency like a natural disaster isn’t something many people think about.
That is, until they find themselves in one unprepared. Unfortunately, too many people have learned the hard way when it comes to being prepared.
Personally, I’ve seen this too many times. Since, I live on Texas’ Gulf Coast, I’ve experienced my fair share of tornadoes and hurricanes. Most recently, I’ve experienced Hurricanes Ike and Harvey. And, things could’ve been worse if we hadn’t been prepared.
You see, my community learned so much from going through Hurricane Rita. And, one of the lessons learned was how to be prepared.
Unfortunately, many of the organizations that help with natural disasters also learned something. They learned that they hadn’t considered how to prepare when you have a chronic disease.
So, here are some things I’ve learned about emergency preparedness with a chronic disease.
Have a Plan in Place Ahead of Time
There’s that old saying, “It’s better to be safe than sorry” holds some truth to it. Having a plan in place ahead of time in the event of an emergency cuts down on the amount of stress you feel in the midst of the event.
Do you remember those fire drills you went through when you were in school? While you thought they were a waste of time, they actually served a purpose. Having a plan in place for emergencies really does help you during an actual emergency.
What To Put in Your Plan
So, what should be included in your emergency plan?
You need to include:
- Contact information list- two emergency contact people plus doctors, pharmacies
- Family contact information- in case you become separated
- List of the supplies you need
- Where you will shelter in place at home
- Designated shelters nearby in case you’re caught away from home
- Evacuation plan and route if needed
- What to take with you if you have to evacuate
Why You Need to Have a Plan
Like I said earlier, this plan grew out of the lessons learned from not being prepared. No one really wants to think about having to evacuate their home, yet it’s a reality. When we evacuated for Hurricane Rita, we weren’t ready.
Even the state wasn’t ready. People were stuck on evacuation routes for over 8 hours or more for what normally takes 5 hours. Since then, Texas has changed it’s evacuation routes. And, knowing the correct route to take will cut down on time and frustration.
So, know the evacuation routes for where you live. Along with this information, all the other information included in your plan will help you when you experience an emergency.
It’s bad enough going through an emergency as a healthy individual. But, when you add a disease like lupus into the mix, you need to take extra precautions. And, having an emergency plan in place helps you take these precautions.
Create a Checklist
Having a plan in place won’t help you if you can’t remember the plan. You need to create an emergency preparedness checklist to work from.
Let’s be honest- Lupus fog makes remembering the simplest things impossible. Add the stress of an emergency, and the lupus fog will intensify. And, really, in that moment, when you need to be focused, the last thing you need to do is add to your lupus fog (For more on how lupus fog affects you and for ways to combat lupus fog, read my post- How To Combat Brain Fog With Lupus).
So, you create an emergency preparedness checklist to help you remember the things you need to remember. Be sure to include all the steps you need to take to be prepared. Also, you’ll want to include all the information you’ll need to have gathered.
Here’s what you need to include on your checklist(these items will be covered in more detail below):
- Important information box
- Supplies- food, water, first aid, etc.
- Medications- prescription and OTC
- Cash/ credit cards
- Out of town contact person
- Change of clothes
- Fuel for vehicles
- Evacuation route
I know this seems like quite a bit of information. But, trust me, when you’re in the midst of an emergency, it’s difficult to remember everything with so much going on. Instead of trying to remember everything, it’s better to have it written down.
Supplies You Need
As I mentioned earlier, here are the supplies you will actually need. But, first I want to give a few more tips.
First of all, you’ll want to store these supplies where you take shelter in your home. For example, when we lived in Oklahoma, we had a storm shelter built into the ground that came with the house. Ironically, they’re called fraidy holes because that’s where you go when you’re “afraid” of tornadoes.
And, that’s where we kept the supplies. Now, if you shelter inside your house, just make sure your supplies are in the room where you shelter. Here, in Texas on the Gulf Coast, we’re near sea level so there’s no building anything underground. Too close to the water table.
So, we shelter in a room that’s the furthest inside the house with no windows. And, that’s also where we keep our supplies.
As for supplies, you are going to need to keep enough food and water for each person for 3 days. Now, as food items, you’ll want non-perishable items like protein bars, canned goods, and other shelf-stable food items.
What if you’re on the AIP diet? You can find AIP-friendly canned goods like soy-free tuna. Just be sure to check the ingredients on all canned goods before you buy. Or, you can preserve your own food.
Along with food and water you’re going to need the following:
- First aid supplies
- Battery operated radio
- Extra batteries
- Emergency cell phone charger- Yeah, they make ones with a hand crank and some solar options, as well.
- Change of clothing
- Hygiene and sanitation supplies- handi-wipes, hand sanitizer, trash bags, plastic bucket (I’ll let you figure out why), etc.
- Mult-utility tool
- Can opener- battery-operated if you have pain in your hands
- Battery-operated fan- if you suffer pain from getting hot
- Generator- If possible. Around here it’s pretty much a necessity.
- Fuel for generator- if you have one.
- Cash and credit card
- Things to occupy time and relieve stress- books and games
- Information box
- Health journal- to track symptoms
As you can see, I included cash on the list. Unfortunately, after Hurricane Ike, I needed to buy gas, but the credit card scanners weren’t working. And, I was out of luck. So, emergency cash is good to have on hand.
Having lupus, you’re going to need extra supplies. In addition to the typical medical supplies in your first aid kit, you’re going to need access to your medications. These include prescription and OTC meds. And, you’ll need an extended supply of 7-10 days according to the CDC.
Now, I know that when dealing with prescriptions, you’re talking about a limited supply. So, you may want to talk to your doctor about what to do in case of emergencies.
Also, you’ll need to include other medical supplies that go along with your medications. For example, if you use injections, you’ll need a sharps container. In fact, anything you use daily to help you cope needs to be included.
Earlier, I mentioned an information box. And, it’s one of the emergency preparedness essentials. This is where you keep copies of important documents like copies of birth certificates, family contact information, insurance policies, banking information, passports, Social Security cards, and immunization records.
In addition to the above, you’ll need to include medical information like:
- Contact information for healthcare providers and pharmacies
- List of medical conditions including allergies
- List of medications
- Contact information for next of kin/ power of attorney
- List of previous meds and reasons for discontinuing
- Most recent lab results or important medical documents
- Inventory of personal possessions inside your home- for damages claims
I know that this is a large list, but in the midst of an emergency remembering the details may be hard to do. In addition to this list, you may want to ask your doctor for a letter describing your diagnosis and treatment.
And, you need to store all of this in a water-proof, fire-proof box. Keep it with your other supplies.
What To Take With You If You Evacuate
Unfortunately, staying at home isn’t always an option during an emergency. Sometimes, you have to evacuate.
For example, with Hurrican Ike, we didn’t even debate whether or not to leave. We evacuated the minute they told us to. And, I’m glad we did. That’s because portions of our ceiling collapsed. If we stayed, we would’ve been under that!
I’m not even going to go into the damage caused by flooding. Plus, power was out for weeks.
So, when you need to go, you need to go.
And, you should be prepared for that, as well.
When you need to evacuate, be sure to take:
- Clothing- be sure to include extra-underwear
- Cash and credit card
- House keys and proof of address- for getting back in, especially when access is restricted
- Bedding- I don’t go anywhere without my pillow
- Information box
- Medications- a 7-10 day supply
- Stress relievers- books
- Chargers for your devices
- First aid kit
- Hygeine products
Now, it would be a good idea to have all of this already collected in a go-bag( Source). Yes, that’s what I’ve done. And, I keep the go-bag with our other emergency supplies. If we have to evacuate, I can just grab the bag, the family, and the pets and go.
Yes, I know this is quite a bit of work. But, it’s better to do it now than to be scrambling to find everything in the event of an emergency.
And, just like everything else in your life, having lupus requires extra attention to these emergency preparedness essentials.
Trust me, putting in the effort to be prepared before an emergency will reduce your stress during an emergency.
Also, it will enable you to continue to manage your lupus.
Just because you’re in the midst of an emergency, that doesn’t mean you to need to suffer more from your lupus.
I hope this post has helped. If it has, please share it socially. Sharing helpful information is the lupus warrior way.
Wishing you better days ahead,