How cancer patients can prepare for severe weather events

How cancer patients can prepare for severe weather events
Source - Pablo Buffer

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Severe weather events can prove to be especially dangerous for cancer patients. In addition to disrupting routines necessary for a person’s treatment and recovery, a cancer patient’s severe weather preparedness plan may be drastically different than those recommended for people not battling the disease.

Robin Maggio, a Cancer Social Worker at Woman’s Hospital, and Dr. Mindy Bowie, a Breast Surgical Oncologist at Woman’s Hospital, offered the following tips to help people with cancer prepare:

PLANNING AHEAD

  • Make sure all medical devices necessary for care are charged. If using a generator to charge those devices, make sure the generator is away from the home.
  • Don’t assume your appointments are cancelled. Contact your physician and the facility where you receive treatment to understand what their plans are.
  • Immediately contact your doctor to locate clinics and resources in the area you plan to evacuate to, should you be asked to evacuate. 
  • Get a list of medications you are currently on, and keep bottles of your medication that you can show to a pharmacist. Insurers may approve refills during times of emergency, and knowing exactly what you need can help expedite the process.
  • Inform family members of your evacuation plans and discuss ways to communicate with each other should mobile phones stop working. 

QUESTIONS FOR YOUR DOCTOR

  • What is the correct spelling of your name? How can I get in touch with you during the storm?
  • What is the type of cancer I am being treated for?
  • What medications am I currently prescribed? Which of those medications am I required to take on a regular basis? Which of those medications do I take on an as-needed basis
  • How can I get copies of my medical records before the storm? How can I get a copy of those records should I need to evacuate and seek treatment at a different facility?

WHAT TO PACK

  • A list of medications you are currently prescribed, and a copy of medical records placed in a waterproof bag.
  • Nutritious foods: protein bars, dry fruits, almonds, granola. Be cautious of canned goods which can be high in sodium.
  • Insect repellent 
  • Closed toe shoes

LEAVING HOME

  • If you need to go to a shelter during the storm, inform the staff about your diagnosis immediately. Ask staff if you need to be transferred to a medical shelter or provided certain resources designated for immunocompromised individuals.
  • If you travel through any contaminated area or floodwaters seek medical attention immediately.

WHEN TO LEAVE

  • Evacuate if it looks like flooding is coming. Threats of flooding increase anxiety and begin a negative flow of events for patients.
  • Plan to leave if symptoms suddenly become unmanageable at home. Immediately contact your physician to discuss options. 

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