Medication and Emergency Preparedness

An important part of any emergency preparedness plan that can easily be overlooked is medication. No matter what type of medication you take, you don’t want to find yourself in a crisis situation without it.

Ensuring that your medication is covered by your emergency preparedness plan involves these six steps.

1. Compile your medical information.

This can be cumbersome but is invaluable in the event of an emergency. Having all of your information organized and ready to go makes it much easier to get help if necessary and keep your medication regimen on track. In your medical file you should include:

  • Emergency contacts, including at least one friend or family member that lives at least 100 miles away.
  • Your doctor(s) and other medical providers.
  • A list of the medications you take, making sure to include the dosage, frequency, purpose of medication, and the name and phone number of the doctor who wrote the prescription.
  • A copy of the prescription for every medication that you take. You may also want to leave a copy with a national pharmacy chain. If you wear glasses or contacts, include those prescriptions as well.
  • A notation of any sensitivities or allergies that you have.
  • Your immunization history.
  • Information regarding any medical equipment or support systems that you use. Take care to consider things like hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, oxygen, wheelchair batteries, service animals, and the like.
  • If you have a communication disability, include a note of the best way others can communicate with you.

You should keep all of these records with you emergency preparedness kit as well as with a trusted friend or relative who lives out of town that can be reached in the event of an emergency.

If you feel comfortable doing so, you may also want to scan and email copies of your medical information to yourself so that it can be accessed from anywhere. An alternate suggestion is to store this information in the cloud.

Having copies of your prescriptions is extremely important as that will allow you to refill your medication as soon as you reach a pharmacy.

2. Determine what type of medication(s) and what type of help you would need in the event of an emergency.

Medications are to be taken for a reason, though some are more critical than others. Determine the importance of your medications and make sure you plan accordingly so that the medications will be available during an emergency.

Think seriously about your own capabilities, limitations, and what kind of challenges could be imposed by your surroundings in the event of an emergency. Know what kind of assistance you would need and be ready to communicate your needs in an emergency situation.

3. Stockpile prescription medication.

Start stockpiling your prescription medications. Your stockpile should include enough of every essential medication to last at least seven to ten days.

The best way to stockpile prescription medication is to refill your prescription as soon as the pharmacy will allow. By doing this every time, you will have a few extra days’ worth of medicine that you can set aside as part of your emergency preparedness kit.

4. Maintain your stockpile responsibly.

Medications do expire, so rotate the medications that are included in your kit so that you don’t store outdated supplies.

Get in the habit of replacing the stored medication with every new refill. Also, take care to store your medications in labeled, child-proof containers away from places that experience extreme heat, cold, or humidity. Be particularly cautious with certain medications, especially narcotics, as these are more susceptible to being stolen and abused.

5. Talk with your doctor about your emergency preparedness plan.

Anyone who routinely takes prescription medication should consult a physician about preparedness issues. Talk with the doctor who wrote the prescription about what to do in case you run out of medication during an emergency. Understand the shelf life and optimal storage temperature for your medication.

While it is beneficial to plan ahead, it is sometimes impossible to be prepared for everything. Certain medicines and supplies cannot be properly stored away.

For example, vitamin injections must be stored away from light and refrigerated. Plus, they only have a two month shelf life. This means stockpiling your vitamin injections is impossible; you must routinely purchase new doses. Talk to your doctor about an alternative form of medication that could temporarily replace your injections if necessary.

Also, other treatments—like nebulizers and dialysis—might be difficult to come by in the midst of an emergency. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to plan for an emergency and what alternatives might be available.

6. If you get regular treatments at a clinic, hospital, other healthcare center, or at home, talk with your doctor or nurse about their emergency preparedness plans.

These treatments are part of your medical needs, so work with your service provider to develop an emergency preparedness plan that will cover your needs. Also be sure to get referrals for other providers that offer the same services and include these providers in your list of emergency contacts.

By making sure that you have all of your medications and medical information in your emergency kit, you greatly increase your chances of staying healthy and getting what you need during a time of crisis.


Jessica is a health and fitness writer who recently embraced the prepper mindset. She is now combining her passions to better educate readers about truly living a prepared lifestyle.


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