How to Prepare for Disasters and Medical Emergencies
What steps can I take to prepare to protect my health in an emergency?
We hope disaster never strikes you. However, natural disasters, financial disasters, and even medical emergencies can happen when you least expect them. The SAMI-Aid team recommends taking the following steps to prepare for the worst:
Create an emergency preparedness kit.
FEMA, an agency of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, has created easy instructions for preparing a 72-hour emergency survival kit for your family. You can download or print a checklist here. Most of the recommended items are inexpensive, easy to acquire, and potentially lifesaving in a disaster. The list includes:
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
In case you cannot store enough water—or are in an emergency lasting more than three days—we highly recommend purchasing a portable water filter; some reliable emergency water filters can be found for $20 or less.
Open a Health Savings Account.
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a special type of tax-favored savings account which can be used to save pre-tax money for "qualified medical expenses." Benefits of HSAs include the following: 1) contributions are tax-deductible (up to certain legal limits); 2) withdrawals to pay qualified medical expenses are tax-deferred. There are a few requirements
Start following a zero-based budget.
Use telemedicine for some of your doctor visits.
Shop around for the best-valued healthcare and pharmacy.