Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Hurricane Irene: Medical conditions require special preparation

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Patients on medications and with existing health conditions like diabetes and heart and kidney disease need to take care to ensure they have an adequate supply of needed drugs. Power outages, transportation issues and other impacts from hurricane Irene can be averted by taking inventory now to ensure preparedness.

Diabetes emergency preparedness

Diabetics can keep insulin at room temperature for 30 days. For other medications, keep a cooler handy for use with ice packs or ice.

Keep extra batteries on hand for glucometers and insulin pumps and make sure you have at least a week’s supply of medications and glucose test strips.

Make a list of all medications in case of need for evacuation. Pack three days’ worth of medicines in a first aid kid. Include your insurance card and any medical records available.

Make a list of emergency contacts, including home health agencies, rescue, family and friends. Make an emergency identification card, listing your name, date of birth, allergies, insurance information, family contact information, medications, your doctor’s name and health conditions for rescue workers. Keep it in your wallet.

Stock up on a week supply of diabetic foods that you normally would eat. Include food choices that can be eaten at room temperature.

According to the Center's for Disease Control, a freezer full of food will remain safe for 48 hours. Access the freezer only when necessary to avoid food spoilage.

Styrofoam coolers can be used to store milk, dairy and other refrigerated items, is inexpensive and can be surrounded by ice to prevent bacteria from growing.

If you have a food thermometer, check the temperature before consumption. Food with a temperature lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit should be discarded.

Heart disease

Patients with heart disease should check expiration dates on nitroglycerin used to treat angina attacks. Obtain a new prescription, which could be lifesaving in the event of sudden onset of chest pain.


Dialysis patients should make a shopping list and have the following on hand, according to the Southeastern Kidney Council:

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

“4 bags candy; such as gum drops, Life Savers, sourballs, lollipops
‰ Jar of grape or apple jelly
‰ Granulated sugar
‰ Jar honey
‰ Unsalted margarine
‰ 3 small jars mayonnaise (open fresh jar each day)
‰ 4 small cans unsalted tuna fish (6 oz. size)
‰ 4 small cans boned canned chicken (8 oz. size)
‰ Jar unsalted peanut butter
‰ Small boxes of shredded wheat, puffed rice, puffed wheat
‰ Canned peaches
‰ Canned pears
‰ Jar applesauce
‰ Jar Tang crystals (grape or orange)
‰ Can lemonade crystals
‰ Small cans of cranberry juice
‰ Small cans of gingerale and 7-Up
‰ 2 loaves white enriched bread
‰ Box graham crackers
‰ Box plain cookies (no chocolate)
‰ Box unsalted crackers
‰ Dozen hard boiled eggs (prepared ahead of time)
‰ Listerine breath spray (helps thirst)
‰ Gatorgum (helps thirst)
‰ Half dozen lemons (helps thirst)

Ask your doctor for any other recommendations for emergency medications.

The Southeastern Kidney Council advises keeping enough salt free canned tuna, salmon or chicken on hand to provide 2 to 3 ounces of protein a day.

Keep canned fruits on hand – cherries, pineapples, peaches, pears, plums and applesauce.

Liquids that can be consumed in limited quantities for dialysis patients include Tang, Kool-Aid, soda and fruit juice.

Stock up on canned vegetables to include peas, carrots, corn and green beans.

Have 2 to 4 servings of bread, cereals and pasta on hand, such as graham crackers, wafers, pasta, dry cereal and salt-free crackers.

Non-diabetics and diabetics should keep sweets on hand. Diabetics should use for symptoms of low blood sugar. Sweets can provide non diabetic kidney dialysis patients needed calories.

Patients with special needs

If you have special medical needs, find a local shelter, staffed with medical personnel. It is important to bring your medications, eye glasses, hearing aids and assistive devices if you plan to relocate during hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene is expected to have a huge impact on the East Coast, that include power and transportation disruption. Personal preparedness is the first step for staying safe.

Take note and be prepared. Emergency preparedness is especially important for people with existing medical conditions. It's important to understand that 911 services may not be available in some areas.

CDC disaster planning
Southeastern Kidney Council

Image credit: Wikimedia commons