Each geographic region in the U.S. has a greater risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, forest fires, heat waves, and storms throughout the year. Now’s a good time for all of us to think about ways we can prepare our households for the fallout from Mother Nature and other emergencies. Here are seven sensible ways to start:

  1. Update your medical records. Most physicians’ offices use electronic medical records, and some are linked. Be sure to update your medical history for all of your treating doctors, including Teladoc. The update should include:
    • Your current address, phone, and email
    • Your current medications
    • Any new diagnoses you received from other physicians
    • An emergency contact (name, phone, email, relationship)

    If you have the ability to share your records with another family member, go ahead and take care of that too.

  2. Get a weather radio. Even if you have weather apps on your mobile devices, you have to be prepared in case the mobile devices run out of power or cell service fails. Also, be sure to put extra batteries for the radio in a waterproof container and keep them where you store the radio.
  3. Keep your first-aid kit stocked. If you’ve never put together a kit, we’ve included a link to a list of items under “additional resources” below. You might also want to include these items in the kit:
    • first-aid guide (with multilingual versions, if applicable)
    • alcohol wipes
    • anti-allergy medication
    • anti-diarrheal medication
    • arm sling
    • assorted finger splints
    • calamine lotion
    • eye wash with cup
    • insect repellent
    • disposable safety masks (to protect from dust and smoke)

    You’ll want to review the first-aid guide with everyone in the household and make sure they understand what to do. When your first-aid kit is complete, be sure to check it at least twice a year and replace expired items. Other items you may want to keep around the house include:

    • inflatable swimming pool (to store water or to provide relief on a hot day)
    • life jackets (if you live near a body of water prone to flooding)
    • rubber gloves
    • safety goggles
  4. Install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. All homes should be equipped with this critical lifesaving equipment. They should be installed properly and checked at least twice a year. Many home improvement stores offer a variety of alarms and extinguishers, and local fire departments are a great source of information and training. Everyone in the home, even children, should be taught how to use a fire extinguisher. If you have an outdoor grill or live in an area where wildfires are a possibility, please keep a heavy-duty household garden hose with sprayer near each outdoor faucet on your property.
  5. Double up on the first aid and safety. Emergencies can happen anywhere—at home, in the office, on the road, or at school—so be sure to keep essential items in those places as well. You’ll always want to keep a fire extinguisher and mobile first-aid kit in your car. If it gets cold where you live, keep blankets in the trunk.
  6. Be ready to live off the grid. Earlier this year a summer thunderstorm produced powerful winds that blew through the Dallas area, uprooting large trees and destroying power lines. Large sections of the city went without electricity for days, and some residents were unable to drive out of their neighborhoods due to debris blocking the roads. When a large-scale disaster strikes, you may experience at least a short-term loss of basic utilities and amenities, and emergency vehicles may be delayed in getting to you. In case something like this occurs where you live, you may want to keep these tools, supplies, and food in stock—enough to last at least three days:
    • drinking water—about one gallon per person per day (fill bathtubs and coolers with water too)
    • flashlights and candles (with plenty of batteries and waterproof matches)
    • heavy-duty trash bags
    • manual can opener
    • non-perishable foods: canned meats, fruits, vegetables, juices, and pasteurized milk; protein bars; dry cereal/granola; peanut butter; nuts and dried fruit; dry milk packets; food for infants and pets (buy as much of the canned goods with ring-pull tops as possible, and store all items in waterproof containers that open and reseal easily)
    • rapid-dissolving bathroom tissue (also called RV/marine or camper)
  7. Have backups. If anyone in your household has to rely on someone else to administer medication to them (for example: insulin injections, breathing treatments, medicines for infants and small children), please have at least two people in the household trained for the task. The same goes for testing (e.g., blood pressure, glucose level, etc.).

    In addition to keeping an in-case-of-emergency (ICE) contact and a list of medications in your cell phone, write down or print out important phone numbers and a medications list for each person in the household. Store everything in a waterproof container, designate a safe but accessible place for it, and make sure everyone in the household knows where it’s kept. Be sure to review and update the information periodically. Here are a couple ways to record information about medications:

    • Save one set of paper backup materials that the pharmacy provides with each medication.
    • Take a photo of each medication bottle with two pills beside it: Turn one over so that you can see the inscriptions on both sides of the pill.

What Teladoc can do

Teladoc can quickly help if you have a non-emergency condition such as an insect or animal bite, upper respiratory illness or infection, sprain or strain, or other condition—including asthma, flu, and migraine headache. Our certified physicians are available 24/7 anywhere you are in the U.S., even if you are displaced from your home. When medically necessary, the doctor can send a prescription to a nearby pharmacy. You can also share the results of your Teladoc visit with your primary care physician (PCP).

When updating your Teladoc profile, you can also add eligible dependents, list the PCP for each person, and designate a preferred pharmacy using our convenient pharmacy finder. These updates can be made quickly and easily with the Teladoc app. If you don’t already have it, just download the app to all mobile devices in your household—its available for Apple and Android. You can even link your Kinsa® smart thermometer to it! And speaking of your Teladoc profile, go ahead and log in now while it’s fresh on your mind.

No matter the circumstances, you may be reassured to know that when tough times hit, the best in us usually rises to the occasion, and our communities come together to get through it together. Here’s wishing you the best this fall.

Additional resources

  • American Red Cross: first-aid kits; disaster preparedness training; first-aid kit list
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency: emergency preparedness training
  • National Fire Protection Association: information on fire extinguishers and fire safety practices
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security: downloadable emergency supply list; food safety and management information

This portion of the Teladoc website occasionally offers health, fitness, and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Teladoc cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.

The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving. While we are continuously reviewing and updating our content, some of the information in this article may not reflect the most up-to-date scientific information. Please visit the online resources provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news, or reach out to Teladoc to speak with one of our board-certified physicians.