Expect the unexpected. It’s an old saying that means be ready for anything. Of course, you can’t spend your life waiting for the other shoe to drop, but you can take some basic steps to prepare for an emergency.
No matter what season it is or what area of the country you live in, there’s the potential for a natural disaster. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, blizzards, and earthquakes all have the potential to drive you away from your home. This post includes tips on building an emergency kit and preparing an emergency plan.
Stay Informed about Potential Threats
Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to stay informed about what’s happening in your area. A variety of federal and local government agencies offer online resources to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.
In addition, your local government’s website should have a section or page devoted to emergency preparedness.
Create an Emergency Kit
When it comes to emergency kits, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are basic supplies any kit needs. You want at least three days’ worth of each item in your kit. It should include:
- Water: One gallon per person, per day
- Food: Non-perishable items plus a hand-operated can opener
- First aid kit
- Flashlight plus extra batteries
- Pet supplies, including food, water, and medications (if you have a pet or service animal)
- Battery-powered radio and/or NOAA Weather Radio plus batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a shelter or seal a room
- Local maps
- Tools to turn off utilities, such as pliers or a wrench
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
Personalize Your Emergency Kit
FEMA recommends gathering emergency supplies based on your individual needs. You want enough supplies to take care of your and your loved ones’ needs for at least three days. Consider what items you use daily when filling your emergency kit.
Add Medical Items to Your Emergency Kit
Start by adding any medications or medical supplies you use on a regular basis. Here, we drop the three-day supply rule and recommend at least a week’s worth of medication. In addition, create a list of prescriptions, including dosages, as well as any over-the-counter medications you take. You want to update this as required, i.e. whenever you have a change in medication or dosage.
Also include copies of your Medicare card, as well as any other insurance cards you have. Add in extra sets of eyeglasses, contact lens solution, hearing aid and batteries, wheelchair batteries, and any other medical items.
If your care includes regular treatments administered by a healthcare provider, talk to them about their emergency plan and any other facilities you can go to in the event you cannot reach theirs. If any of your medical equipment is electric-powered, ask your provider about options in the event you lose power.
Add Documentation to Your Emergency Kit
Include copies of advance directives and estate planning documents. This includes family records, powers of attorney, wills, tax and social security information, and financials such as copies of credit card and bank account information.
It’s also a good idea to include contact information for family, friends, and medical providers. Finally, if you can afford to, include a supply of cash or travelers’ checks.
What Will You Do in an Emergency?
Having an emergency kit is only step one. You also need to create a plan. Once you have your plan written down, you need to keep a copy of it with your kit. You should also share your plan with your personal network (who are also part of the written plan).
Here again you need to look at your daily life. Are there any people who assist you on a regular basis? How will you reach them during an emergency? What are your means of transportation? Do you require handicap-accessible transportation?
List each aspect of your daily, weekly, and monthly routine. Then, come up with alternatives to your usual procedure and write them down. This is the first part of your plan.
Who Belongs in Your Support Network?
Your support network includes anyone you rely on during your daily life as well as family and friends. Include their names and numbers in your plan. Your network should include at least one person who does not live in the same area as you and so would not be affected by the same disaster. Make sure these people know they’re part of your network and share your plan with them, both in person and by giving them a written copy.
Determine how you’ll communicate with family. A good idea is to have family members check in with your out-of-town person, since this person probably won’t be impacted by the disaster. If possible, try to text instead of calling to keep phone lines open for first responders.
The people in your network need to know details such as where you plan to go in the event of a disaster. Show them where you keep your emergency supplies and give at least one of them a key to your home.
What Happens to Your Medicare Coverage During an Emergency?
If you have to evacuate and you have Original Medicare, your coverage extends throughout all 50 states and Washington, D.C. You may see any provider who accepts Medicare. However, if you have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, the only requirement is that your plan covers emergency treatment when you leave your service area. If you require non-emergency treatment during your evacuation period, talk to your plan provider to determine coverage and any restrictions.
Beneficiaries who live in a disaster or emergency area may experience changes to Medicare rules both during and immediately following the event. Medicare.gov offers extensive information on which situations qualify for these changes and answers common questions.
If you have questions about your Medicare coverage or plan options, please call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 to speak with a licensed sales agent.
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