Storing Medications Safely During a Hurricane
Hurricanes can be unpredictable, but being prepared is key to staying safe. Part of being prepared includes packing at least seven days’ worth of necessary medications in your emergency supply kit. Medications should be stored in clean, cool and dry places, but hurricane conditions – from flooding to power outages – can make it difficult to keep medications safe for use. Be prepared and learn ahead of time how to handle and store medications safely during a hurricane.
If Your Power Goes Out and You Have Medications Requiring Refrigeration:
Some medications that need refrigeration can last a short period of time when stored at room temperature, but they will be less effective than normal. Insulin, for example, can be stored up to 28 days in temperatures between 59° F and 86° F when it is stored in its original container.
Medications that have been without refrigeration for a long time should be thrown away unless they are necessary to preserve life. Replace them with a fresh supply as soon as possible.
If your power goes out, store medications in your freezer and keep the door closed to preserve a cool temperature. A full freezer can stay cool for up to 48 hours. Be careful to not freeze your medications – frozen insulin is not safe for use.
If Medications Are Exposed to Unclean Water:
Unclean water from flooding can potentially contaminate medications and make them unsafe. Throw out all medications that may have been contaminated by unclean water, even if they are stored in containers that seem waterproof.
If a life-preserving medication may have been around unclean water but has not gotten wet or been otherwise contaminated, it can be used with caution in an emergency.
If You Need to Add Water to a Medication:
If you need to add water to a medication, use only clean water from a safe, purified source like your drinking water supply. Water from unpurified sources may be contaminated and can potentially make you very sick.
If Medications Are Exposed to High Heat:
Fire and high heat can damage medications and cause them to be less effective than normal. Exposed medications should be replaced as soon as possible. If a medication is necessary to preserve life and has not been altered by high temperatures or fire, then it can be used with caution.
As soon as you have access to medications that are unaffected by water, heat or a lack of refrigeration, be sure to replace your supply. If you have any questions about how to safely store your medications, don’t hesitate to reach out to health care providers.