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Advice & More October 2017

Dear Pharmacist

8 Excellent Disaster Tips Plus a DIY First Aid Kit

By Suzy Cohen

Your dishwasher is waterproof so if floods are anticipated, store photo albums and documents inside the dishwasher. When the water recedes, they should be perfect.

We saw the devastation from Hurricane Harvey and then monster storm Irma! It’s not just rain, wind and flooding that leads to a disaster, it’s also earthquakes, landslides and fires.

You just never know when severe weather will strike, you never know when you’ll have to jump in your car and evacuate, or rush down into the basement or other safe space for a tornado! It’s important to have a plan but I can’t say everything here in 500 words, so read the complete version which is 3 times longer on In the meantime, this will get you started:

  1. Medications - Keep a handwritten list in your wallet. Even better (if you have the time) is to stick the prescription label onto a piece of paper so all your dosing information is shown. I’d also keep the list on your smartphone. When the power goes out, pharmacies can’t access your medication profile on the computer. Your list allows paramedics to give you the correct pills or shots.

  2. Water-filled plastic storage bags - Fill a Ziploc or similar bag about 75 percent full with some fresh water, then freeze it. Keep several frozen at all times. Grab them if you need to leave in a hurry. While frozen, they can protect insulin, food or liquid antibiotics. As they melt, you’ll have pure water which you can drink in an emergency.

  3. Portable charger - Buy a portable cell phone charger (aka power bank) and a transistor radio – hand-cranked, battery-operated or even solar-powered.

  4. Dishwasher storage - Your dishwasher is waterproof so if floods are anticipated, store photo albums and documents inside the dishwasher. When the water recedes, they should be perfect. 

  5. Loved ones list - If a rescuer wants to call your loved ones or spouse to assure them of your safety and rescue, having a handwritten “Loved Ones List” is invaluable. Let’s face it, nobody knows phone numbers by heart anymore.

  6. Children - I lived in Florida for 35 years, and when the hurricanes barreled through, I always made sure that my kids were pleasantly distracted with puzzles, painting, beading or “camping” in the (safer) hallway.

  7. Emergency kit - You can buy some very nice ones on Amazon or Costco, or you can create your own like this:

    DIY First Aid Kit

    • Analgesics like ibuprofen or acetaminophen

    • Hydrocortisone and antibiotic ointment

    • A little blanket and a pair of socks

    • Toothpaste/brushes and deodorant

    • Small salt shaker to replenish electrolytes

    • Spare undies if you’re evacuating to a shelter

    • Eyeglasses or contacts

    • A whistle to call for help

    • Spare keys to your house/car

    • A multi-purpose knife

    • Flashlights/batteries

    • N95 or N100 mask

    • Ziploc bags and toilet paper

  8. Map - If you have to drive because of an immediate evacuation and you can’t use GPS in your car or your smartphone, then an actual paper map is a blessing. Just get in the car and drive to safety!


A licensed pharmacist for over 22 years Suzy Cohen shares the pros and cons of medication use as well as natural substitutions for most any of your health concerns. Visit Suzy's website at

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