Hurricane Health and Safety

How to stay safe and healthy before and after a severe storm

(RxWiki News) As hurricane season continues, safety is the number one priority. But severe storms can pose health and safety risks both before and after they strike.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe and healthy before and after the storm.

Preparing for the Storm

Before a severe storm or hurricane hits, make sure to prepare an emergency supply of water, food, and medicine and gather safety and personal items. Severe weather may knock out power and water. On top of that, your vehicles may be unusable or the roads may be flooded.

When preparing an emergency water supply, be sure to do the following:

  • Save at least five gallons of water per person. This should be enough to last three to five days.
  • Prepare clean containers to hold the water.
  • Gather supplies to make your drinking water safe, such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach.
  • Learn how to safely store your water supply to ensure your drinking water is safe for use.

To prepare an emergency food and medicine supply, complete the following steps:

  • Gather a three- to five-day supply of nonperishable foods (such as canned foods).
  • Choose foods that do not require water, refrigeration or much cooking.
  • Have enough baby food or formula for several days, if necessary.
  • Store your pet's food
  • Choose foods that are not very salty or spicy. Salty and spicy foods increase your need for more drinking water, which needs to last you as long as possible.

Cooking after a natural disaster may be difficult. Have cooking utensils, utensils to eat with (knives, forks and spoons), and paper plates, cups and towels on hand. Don't forget a manual can and bottle opener. When cooking, you will need a propane gas or charcoal grill, as well as the fuel necessary for cooking.

Also, don't forget to gather all of your prescription medicines. After a disaster, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Emergency Prescription Assistance Program may be activated. This is a free service that helps people obtain medicine, medical supplies, medical equipment and vaccines that were lost, stolen or damaged due to a disaster. If activated, call 855-793-7470 to enroll or visit

Some safety and personal items to gather include the following:

  • Cash
  • Personal identification
  • Medications
  • First aid kit and instructions
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet cleaning cloths, such as baby wipes
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers

Indoor Safety After the Storm

The storm may be over, but that doesn't mean danger is out of sight. Take the following precautions to keep yourself and your family safe after the storm:

  • Never use a wet electrical device.
    • If the device is still plugged in, be sure to turn off the power at the main breaker.
  • If the power is out, use flashlights instead of candles.
  • Be very careful near damaged buildings and structures.
    • If you hear shifting or unusual noises, be sure to leave your home or other building right away. Strange noises could mean it is about to fall.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by following these steps.

What You Need to Know When Outdoors

  • Keep away from floodwater.
    • Always follow the warnings about flooded roads.
    • Never drive through floodwater. It may be deeper than you think.
    • If you need to be in or near floodwater, always wear a life jacket, especially if the water is rising.
    • Keep in mind that floodwater often carries germs. If you are exposed to floodwater, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Stay away from power lines and dangerous materials.
    • Be sure to watch out for power lines overhead.
  • Protect yourself from animals and pests.
    • Where there is floodwater, you will often find mosquitoes. Be sure to use insect repellent (bug spray) with DEET or picaridin. Try to wear long sleeves, pants and socks when you are outside to protect yourself from mosquitoes.
    • Be sure to stay away from wild or stray animals that might have been displaced by the storm.

These are only a few health and safety measures to take before and after a severe storm. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend creating a storm plan for your family to make sure you're fully prepared.

Written by Digital Pharmacist Staff