7 ways to prepare for a disaster

7 ways to prepare for a disaster

July 30, 2020

Throughout the year, each geographic region in the U.S. has a greater risk of natural disasters such as blizzards, floods, forest fires, heat waves and storms. Now’s a good time to prepare our households for these and other emergencies. Here are seven 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 those with Teladoc. The update should include:
    • Your current address, phone and email
    • An emergency contact (name, phone, email, relationship)
    • Current medications
    • Any new diagnoses you received from other physicians
    If you have the ability to share your records with another family member, go ahead and take care of that too.
  2. 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.
  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. Double up on 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Be ready to live off the grid. Last fall, a series of tornadoes cut through North Texas, damaging and destroying homes and cutting off electricity and gas service to entire neighborhoods of homes and businesses throughout Dallas and surrounding cities. Emergency services were delayed due to disrupted traffic flow, downed power lines and uprooted trees. Basic amenities were interrupted, with closed grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, and restaurants; downed streetlights; and traffic signals not working. To prepare to care for yourself and your family during a large-scale disaster, keep these tools, supplies and food in stock—enough to last a week to 10 days:
    • drinking water—at least 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 many canned goods as possible with ring pull tops, and store all items in waterproof containers that open and reseal easily)
    • rapid-dissolving bathroom tissue (also called RV/marine or camper)

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 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.