How to Manage Chronic Disease During a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

Hurricane on earth viewed from space

Houston, like many cities on the Gulf Coast, is prone to flooding and vulnerable to tropical weather such as hurricanes.  It’s easy to remember the impact of storms like Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Storms such as these are capable of destroying homes, leaving people stranded, and forcing evacuation. Here are some tips to help you prepare this hurricane season.

Managing Chronic Conditions

People with chronic conditions should have a plan for emergencies. These types of chronic conditions may include  diabetes, breathing problems, heart disease, kidney disease, among many others.

  • Make sure to have enough medications on hand to last up to seven days.
  • Store medications in a waterproof container such as a zip lock bag.
  • Remember to pack medical equipment, such as a glucometer, blood pressure cuff, walker, cane or catheter supplies.  Pack these items in a bag or suitcase.
  • Have back-up power supplies available for any medical equipment in the home.
  • If you require oxygen, make sure your portable tanks are full – ask your healthcare provider if you can get an extra tank during hurricane season.
  • If dialysis is required, patients should get with their social workers immediately to set up a temporary center in an easily accessible location for all involved.

Special Diet Restrictions

Plan ahead if you are on a special diet. People with special diets will need to have foods that are safe for them, even with the threat of a storm.  Here is a list of non-perishable food items that are low in sugar and syrups.

  • Packaged tuna
  • Jerky (beef, pork salmon, chicken)
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Canned vegetables
  • Pickles
  • Water

Be aware that stored foods tend to be high in sodium, so if you have congestive heart failure or kidney problems, you will want to limit your salt.

Memorial Hermann’s Severe Weather Plan

Before, during, and after a hurricane or tropical storm, Memorial Hermann stays focused on providing world class medical care. In order to maintain a safe environment for our patients, their guests, and our staff, we prepare our hospitals to “ride out” the storm. We bring in extra medical supplies, food, and water. We may reschedule elective procedures and clinic visits. Our facilities are equipped with emergency equipment like generators, wind-resistant windows, and flood protection.

Rest assured that Memorial Hermann is prepared to continue serving the community in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane. We use lessons learned from previous storms like Allison and Ike to improve our preparedness measures. In the event that one of our hospitals does need to be evacuated, we will coordinate the transfer of patients and inform their family members of their destinations. You should only come to one of our hospitals in the event of a medical emergency. Our hospitals are not equipped to serve as public shelters.

During the worst of a storm, emergency services (police, fire, and EMS) will shelter in place and stop responding in order to protect themselves. If you call 911 you may have to wait for a response.  If you live in an evacuation area, please stay tuned to news sources and follow the advice of city and county officials.

For more information on preparing for a hurricane, visit ReadyHoustontx.gov.

For more information on emergency assistance, disaster relief and educaiton, visit The American Red Cross.

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