Living with Chronic Pain

Disaster Preparedness When Living With Chronic Pain


Preparing for potential natural or man-made disasters is an essential task, especially when living with a chronic pain condition. Although making sure plenty of food, water, batteries, flashlights, and other necessities are available is important for everyone when dealing with a disaster, special considerations should be made for those living with chronic pain.

Emergency kit

An emergency kit should always include a gallon of water per person per day. Emergency kits should also contain essential items, such as non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, a first aid kit and a battery-powered radio. Hygiene items, such as hand sanitizer, wet wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes and any other needed or specialty hygiene items should also be included.

For individuals with pain conditions that affect the hands or wrists, a battery-operated can opener should be included in an emergency kit. Braces and any other adaptive tools that may be needed should also be added to the kit.

Medication preparedness

An emergency kit should contain at least a three-day supply of all medications and medical supplies that may be needed. Medications should be kept in a safe place away from heat and moisture. All prescription medications should be kept in their original containers, obtained from the pharmacy, so the name of the doctor and the pharmacy can be referenced if needed. Important medical documents and a list of current health care providers and their contact information should be included in an emergency kit.

Individuals with chronic pain should discuss disaster preparedness with their health care provider. Health care providers can suggest other clinics that may do “guest-dosing” in an emergency situation. In some locations, pharmacies are allowed to dispense up to 30 days worth of medication in certain cases.

Charge it!

Oftentimes, advanced warning is provided to the public about the possibility of a wide-spread power outage during certain natural disasters, such as hurricanes. When provided with advanced notice, individuals should make sure that cell phones, electric toothbrushes, laptops, mobility aids (wheelchairs or scooters) and oxygen generators, etc., are fully charged before disaster strikes. Depending on an individual’s needs, it may be beneficial to purchase a home generator.

Support network

Before an emergency, it is important to talk to family, friends and neighbors so a back-up plan can be created if help is needed. Individuals should consider providing a house key to a trusted person and discuss a disaster-preparedness plan should the need arise.

Accessible shelters

If an individual has mobility issues, researching handicap-accessible shelters in advance of an emergency is a good idea. Most areas have disability-specific emergency preparedness plans that could be helpful if limited mobility is an issue.

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