Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Include health care in your storm planning

With three tropical storms lurking in the Atlantic Ocean like burglars casing a house, people are starting to get a little nervous. And after going through Tropical Storm Fay and watching Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast, residents of the Treasure Coast should be well prepared.

Of course there are some among us – and I know from experience – who wait until the very last minute to prepare. Often when we wait until the last minute, we tend to overlook things. Unfortunately, one of the things that can be overlooked is one of the most important: our health.

Recently I got an email from the Florida Hospital Association, which raised the point that people need to prepare more than just their homes for an impending storm. While stocking up on food and water, they suggested that people also gather necessary healthcare-related items that will be needed when a storm hits.

One of the recommendations was to create a personal health record, which can include a current list of prescriptions, immunizations and other health information. It can also include your medical history, past diagnoses and treatments that you’ve undergone.

And because paper records can be bulky and tough to carry around – not to mention prone to being destroyed during a storm – they suggest creating an electronic version of your personal health records. An electronic record would give healthcare providers all the information needed to properly treat you if necessary.

So be prepared as the storms churn our way. Gather your medical information, as well as prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that you use now, while you still have the opportunity.

To find out more visit This site, created by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, has information on how you can use personal health records as part of your hurricane preparedness plan.

--Scott Samples
Public information coordinator

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