As the Carolinas brace for possible heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Irma, people with worrisome medical conditions and their families need to start thinking now about what they’ll need in the event of heavy flooding or power outages that could stretch on for days.

“This is a strong storm … North and South Carolina have both declared states of emergency ahead of the storm. We need to be ready now,” said Matt Merritt, emergency preparedness manager for Novant Health.

“Many of us are reliant on our medications, on our medical equipment,” Merritt said. So that means making sure you have adequate supplies and that you have any needed medical equipment on hand should you have to leave your home, he said.   

Those with special health issues should consider registering their needs with local emergency management services “so first responders know where you are and what you need during an emergency.”

As for the readiness of the Novant Health System, the organization is prepared: “We have the systems in place to take care of patients,” Merritt said. He noted all hospitals have generator systems in place to function for days, and staffing plans to make sure all patients are fully cared for.

Other advice:

  • Many of us carry family and friend contact information on our phones. Print out a list of your key contacts in the event your phone batteries run out. Those contacts should include doctors and other medical care providers.
  • If there’s a chance you’ll lose power, gradually pack your freezer full with containers of cold water and turn the temperature down in order to maintain a safe temperature longer. Take care not to freeze too much at a time.
  • Get your home insurance policy in hand and gather any other key documents or other information you think you might need.