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What Consumers Need to Know to Prepare for an Emergency

Cheryl A. Thompson

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists recommends that consumers be aware of their medication needs as they prepare for any emergency.  Following the tips below can help you be ready.
  • Keep a list of all your medications in your wallet.
    • Include lists for your immediate family members.
    • Include drug name, strength, dosage form and regimen.
  • Wear your medical-alert bracelet or necklace. 
  • Store 3-5 days of medications that are important to your health.
    • Include any medications that are used to stabilize a medical condition or keep a condition from worsening or resulting in hospitalization, such as:
      • Medications for asthma, seizures, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, psychiatric conditions, HIV, and thyroid disorders.
    • Carry these with you, if possible, in a purse or briefcase in labeled containers.
      • Don’t store in areas that are susceptible to extremes in heat, cold, and humidity (e.g., car or bathroom). This could decrease the effectiveness of the medication. 
      • Use child-resistant containers and keep your purse or briefcase secure.
    • Rotate these medications whenever you get your prescriptions refilled, to make sure they are used before their expiration date.
  • Refill your prescriptions while you still have at least a 3-5 day supply of medications left. Keep in mind that some sources, such as mail order pharmacies, have a longer lead time to refill. 
  • If your child takes medications, communicate with the school to discuss their emergency preparedness plans. 
  • People with complex medication regimens should talk to their physician and pharmacist to help with emergency preparation plans.
    • Such regimens include:
      • Injectable medications, including those delivered by pumps (e.g., insulin , analgesics, chemotherapy, parenteral nutrition) 
      • Medications delivered by a nebulizer (e.g., antibiotics, bronchodilators) 
      • Dialysis supplies