Emergency Preparedness for those with Medical Needs

My purpose here isn’t to discuss hard-core prepping. I’m not going to give you secrets to stockpiling your prescription meds in the event of widespread social unrest or an EMP. My purpose here is to help those with medical needs, or those with kids with medical needs, to prepare for those everyday emergencies, like bad weather, car accidents, medical emergencies, etc. For ease of writing, I’m going to proceed as though talking about kids with medical needs, but obviously the same principles would apply to adults.

I personally believe there’s no excuse to not be prepared for the unexpected. I’m the type that has Go Bags packed for every member of the family, that runs fire drills at our house, that has rendezvous points established with family members, and that keeps emergency supplies in the car. For my husband’s birthday this year, I’m putting together a Work Emergency Kit. 🙂  We’re prepared. But there’s no reason not to be. And, particularly when you have medical concerns to take into consideration, preparation for every day emergencies is even more important.

The first step is to take a minute to list everything your child needs to survive 24 or 48 hours.

For Teddy, that list would be:

Water, Salt, Meds, Feeding pump (though in a pinch we could make do without), feeding tube extensions, syringes of all sizes, diapers, a few changes of clothes, blended food.

Second, thinking through your daily life, list some emergencies that might arise. In my life, that list would include:

– Unexpected hospital admission
– Car accident leading to lots of extra time away from home that we weren’t planning for
– Bad weather heading to/from Iowa City leading to unexpectedly needing to stay overnight away from home
– Loss of power
– Loss of power combined with bad weather making it difficult to leave the house

For other families, that might include:

– Emergency at school
– Inability to get home from school or work
– Evacuation due to fire, expected hurricane, etc.
– Earthquake


Third, and this is deceptively simple, figure out how you’ll take care of all of those things listed in Step 1 if anything in Step 2 happens.

I’ll take one example from our list – needing to unexpectedly stay away from home on a clinic day.
Water: I always have his daily allotment of water with us on clinic days, and I always have two bottles of water for me, so in the event I needed a second day’s worth of water for him, I’d have it.
Salt: I bring his salt for clinic day, and don’t worry about bringing the salt for overnight or the next day. If we have an emergency, missing his salt for a day isn’t going to kill him.
Meds: I obviously bring his morning meds with us, since I have to give him those after labs at the hospital. I also bring his evening doses if the weather is iffy, just in case.
Feeding Pump and Gtube extensions: I bring his feeding pump and cord and two bags with me in what I call my “car bag” that I pack on clinic days – it’s a bag for stuff for the car. I also bring one of each type of feeding tube extension in the “Car bag” (in addition to whatever is floating around in my diaper bag, and in addition to the extensions I pack specifically for that day’s appointments – his bolus tube extension that goes in the small insulated bag with his food and the med extension that goes in the syringe holster with his meds).
Syringes: Since we use syringes throughout the day, I always have what we need with us.
Diapers and Clothes: It’s no secret that I keep a suitcase packed for a week in the hospital in my car at all times. So that takes care of clothes and food for me.
Food for Teddy: On clinic days, I bring Teddy’s entire day’s worth of food, and I also pack in the cooler a second day’s worth of food. This is both in the event of a travel emergency as well as in the event of an unexpected admission.
Misc Medical Supplies: I don’t go anywhere further than walking distance from my home with Teddy without bringing his diaper bag. In his diaper bag is a plastic zip close bag full of those bizarre things we almost never need. A catheter and tape, in case of Gtube breakage. A slip-tip syringe in case I need to flush his Gtube or in case it gets pulled out. Lubricant. Gauze. Tegaderm. A small first aid kit. Zip ties, velcro ties, and a few caribiners (which are useful for securing feeding pump bags in the car, or IV bags, etc.). Bleach wipes and hand disinfecting wipes. I used to carry a ton of emergency PD catheter supplies, as well, but we don’t need those any more.


Fourth, and this is the most important step here, actually DO the things you need to do to be prepared. Don’t just think about how you could be prepared. Actually do it. Actually go pack an emergency bag you could grab in a hurry if you needed to. Actually write a list of the things you’d need to grab that are not pack-in-advance-able and actually post it where you keep your medical supplies. Actually send a few days’ of meds along with your spouse to work just in case he gets stuck there overnight.



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